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Strasburg shaky, but Suns win

August 17, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown's Chris Curran slides headfirst into first base on a bunt single as Lexington second baseman Delino DeShields Jr. covers the base Wednesday night at Municipal Stadium.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Suns came up with a major-league comeback to bail out a Major League star.

On a night when Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg made his second rehabilitation start for the Suns, Hagerstown brought out the bats and rallied for five unanswered runs on Wednesday for an 9-6 victory and a four-game sweep of the Lexington Legends before 3,021 fans at Municipal Stadium.

“Sometimes it’s good to have games like this because you have to get knocked around a little bit to see what you have been doing wrong,” Strasburg said. “I learned a lot from this. It’s another step in the road and I’ll get better from here.”

The Suns trailed 5-3 after 1 1/2 innings but turned the game around with three runs in the second and two in the third. Michael Taylor drove in three runs with extra-base hits in each inning and Adrian Sanchez added two-run triple in the second to get Hagerstown over the hump.

Kevin Keyes also hit a three-run homer to help the Suns erase a 3-0 deficit in the first.

The Suns, who won their seventh straight game, did their duty with the comeback after Strasburg struggled through a 49-pitch outing that lasted just 1 2/3 innings. The right-hander, who is coming back from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, managed just 29 strikes, while allowing five runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

“I thought I was commanding the ball well, but obviously I wasn’t throwing the ball where I need to,” he said.

The win continued Hagerstown’s climb in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division standings as the Suns (69-52, 29-22) keep Kannapolis in its sights for the second-half title. The two teams start a crucial four-game series tonight in Kannapolis, N.C.

Lexington got after Strasburg right from the start by scoring three runs in the first — a 33-pitch inning. The rocky start began as Delino DeShields led off by working a full count before drawing a walk.

Tyler Burnett followed with a first-pitch double to left to score DeShields, before Domingo Santana’s  RBI single made it 2-0 after three batters. Telvin Nash capped the inning with an RBI double to right center as Lexington got all three runs before Strasburg could record an out.

Strasburg only managed 20 strikes in the inning and only threw eight breaking pitches.

The Suns got all three runs back in the bottom of the inning, doing all their damage against Lexington starter Luis Cruz after two were out. Sanchez reached on a fielder’s choice grounder and took third on a David Freitas hit-and-run single to right where he advanced on the throw.

Keyes quickly tied the game by notching his 13th home run of the season, a three-run drive over the fence in right center.

Lexington made sure Strasburg didn’t get out of the second inning for the second straight time in Hagerstown.

Strasburg allowed a one-out double to Emilio King and a walk to DeShields before striking out Burnett. He was lifted for Sam Brown after the 49th pitch. Brown allowed a two-run single to Santana to give the Legends a 5-3 lead.

The Suns regained the lead with a three-run inning in the bottom of the second on an RBI double by Taylor and a two-run triple by Sanchez to give Hagerstown a 6-5 edge.

Hagerstown extended the lead in the third when Adrian Nieto hit a one-out double and Chris Curran singled to set up Taylor’s two-run triple for an 8-5 lead.

Paul Applebee (7-2) went six innings to get the win, allowing a run on three hits while striking out five.

The Nationals’ Doug Slaten made his second rehab appearance with the Suns, setting down Lexington in order in the third. Slaten, who is coming back from a sore left elbow, started for the Suns on Monday and only lasted two-thirds of an inning.

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