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Martinez schools the Suns

May 07, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns seemed to have a road map to victory Tuesday.

But along the way, Greensboro pitcher Christhian Martinez threw up a detour that threw the Suns off course.

The Grasshoppers continued to have their way with Suns pitching while Hagerstown's offense all but shut down after the second inning in an 8-3 loss during an Education Day matinee at Municipal Stadium.

In the end, it was the Suns who got the education, at least in the form of altering sequences.

"(Martinez) changed his pitching pattern," said Suns manager Darnell Coles, whose team lost the final three games of the five-game series. "He was coming in with his fastball in the early innings to try and get ahead in the count and we were swinging early. On the second trip through the lineup, he started mixing his pitches to set up his fastball."

It gave the Grasshoppers (17-14) enough of an edge to get the offense started. Greensboro used three home runs -- two by right fielder Mike Stanton -- to take control in dramatic fashion against five Suns pitchers.

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"We need more consistency out of our starters," Coles said. "We need the starters to go more than 2 2/3 and three innings. That puts a lot of stress on the bullpen, especially in a five-game series. Our main focus is to get the starters to go five or six innings."

Luis Atilano was called on to make his first start for the Suns' stretched staff. He lasted four innings, but left with a 2-1 lead to give the Suns a chance.

Luis Atilano was called on to make his first start for the Suns' stretched staff. He lasted four innings, but left with a 2-1 lead to give the Suns a chance.

Hagerstown took a 2-0 lead on Martinez in the first on Bill Rhinehart's line-drive homer to right-center field.

After the first inning, Martinez switched his pitching approach and went on to retire 14 of the next 16 batters through the sixth inning while the Grasshoppers' bats came alive.

Greensboro scored a run in the third off Atilano as Hunter Mense reached on a fielding error by shortstop Steven Souza, took second on Ryan Curry's single and scored on Ryan Anetsberg's single to right.

Curry, who finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs, gave Greensboro a 3-2 lead with a two-run shot of Suns reliever Atahualpa Severino (2-2) in the fifth before Stanton hit a solo shot to left in the sixth for a 4-2 lead.

Boomer Whiting drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh off reliever Corey Madden to move the Suns (15-17) back within 4-3, but Greensboro capped the game with a four-run eighth on a two-run homer by Stanton and RBI singles by Mense and Curry off Martin Beno to close the scoring.

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