Suns' bullpen provides needed relief in tough spot

July 04, 2013

SALISBURY, Md. — Starting rotations may be overrated.

Hagerstown manager Tripp Keister would never say that, but the Suns have done very well by exclusively using their bullpen for the last two games.

Hagerstown got total relief from its relievers, using three pitchers who combined for a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts while pitching in place of starter Dixon Anderson on Thursday to scratch out a 5-1 victory over Delmarva.

The victory allowed the Suns (48-34, 10-5) to maintain the lead in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division with their fourth straight win. Hagerstown already owns the first-half title.

Ian Dickson got the call to start on Thursday after Anderson — the scheduled starter — was placed on the seven-day disabled list. Dickson turned in four innings, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out four.

Christian Meza (2-0) got the win with three innings of middle relief, allowing a run on two hits while striking out four. Gilberto Mendez struck out two in the final two innings.

The Suns needed to use the bullpen to get through Wednesday’s win over West Virginia, as four relievers answered the call after Matt Purke was promoted to Single-A Potomac.

The Suns jumped off to the early lead in the first inning for the third straight game.

Narciso Mesa drew a leadoff walk against Delmarva starter Josh Hader (3-4) and moved to second on Tony Renda’s single to right before Brandon Miller loaded the bases by drawing a one-out walk.

Estarlin Martinez continued his hot streak with an RBI infield single up the middle, and Will Piwnica-Worms added a sacrifice fly to give Hagerstown the 2-0 lead.

The Suns added a run with two outs in the fourth on Pedro Severino’s first home run — a drive to left field — to extend the lead to 3-0.

Hagerstown upped the lead and chased Hader by scoring two runs for a 5-0 advantage in the fifth.

Renda grounded a one-out single to third and Khayyan Norfork walked to end Hader’s day as Mark Blackmar came on in relief for Delmarva.

Blackmar immediately tried to pick off Norfork, but his errant attempt allowed Renda and Norfork to score.

The Shorebirds broke through in the bottom of the fifth off Meza. Joel Hutter drew a one-out walk, took third on Gregory Lorenzo’s single to right and scored on a Meza wild pitch to cut the deficit to 5-1.

The Suns finished with seven hits, Severino leading the way with three and Renda and Martinez adding two each. Martinez is 8 for 14 with four RBIs in the last four games.

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