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August 8, 2009 at 8:06 AM

Dening collects 4 hits in losing cause

Pawtucket will look to start a winning streak heading into today's Futures at Fenway festivities, as the Red Sox downed Norfolk last night, 6-2. Leading the way was Kris Johnson, who pitched the first 6.0 innings allowing only 1 run on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 3. Jose Vaquedano walked the first 3 hitters he faced in the seventh before being lifted for Javier Lopez, who allowed 1 inherited runner to score to tie the game 2-2 but was otherwise effective, throwing 1.0 perfect inning with a strikeout. Lopez earned the win, his first of the year, when Pawtucket scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh and hung on to win behind the shut-down bullpen work of Fernando Cabrera, who went the final 2.0 innings allowing just 1 walk to earn his twentieth save. The aforementioned go-ahead run was produced off the bat of Brian Anderson, who went 1 for 4 with a solo home run. Jeff Natale later provided insurance for the Red Sox with his 3-run home run in the eighth, part of a 2-for-4, 2-run performance. Mark Wagner drove in the first 2 Pawtucket runs with a double in the first, going 1 for 3 in all.

Portland will also be looking to extend a winning streak today at Fenway Park, as the Sea Dogs rode sensational mound work to a 1-0 shutout of Bowie. Blake Maxwell started and earned the win (4-7), throwing the first 6.0 innings allowing 4 hits and a walk to go along with 1 strikeout. Chad Rhoades went the next 1.2 frames allowing just 2 hits, and Andrew Dobies and Bryce Cox each threw 0.2 hitless innings to close it out, with Cox striking out both batters he faced to earn his ninth save. The Sea Dogs offense managed just 2 hits in the game, with the RBI knock coming off the bat of Jon Still, who went 1 for 3. Luis Exposito also went 1 for 3, while Ryan Kalish managed to steal 2 bases and score the game's only run after walking in the sixth.

Red Sox pitching wasn't quite so stellar down in Kinston, as Salem got drubbed to the tune of 9-1. Dave McKae was the primary punching bag in this one, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits and a walk in 5.1 innings, although he did strike out 5. Armando Zerpa could not stop the scoring, allowing a run in his 1.2 innings, and Jose Capellan fared even worse, surrendering 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks in just 0.2 innings. Josh Papelbon recorded the final out without incident. At the dish, the best night belonged to Jon Hee, who was 2 for 3 with a walk and Salem's only RBI. Chih-Hsien Chiang went 2 for 4 in the game, and Kris Negron went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk.

Despite carrying a 12-4 lead into the eighth inning at home, Greenville pitching surrendered 3 runs in the eighth, 5 in the ninth, and 2 in the eleventh en route to a 14-12 loss to Lexington. Brock Huntzinger got the start and went the first 6.0 innings, allowing 4 earned runs on 6 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. Jason Blackey breezed through the seventh but ran into some misfortune in the eighth, allowing 3 unearned runs on 2 hits and a walk. He did strike out 4 in his 2.0 innings. Chad Povich entered the ninth with a 5-run lead but couldn't hold it, as he was charged with all 5 runs on 2 hits, 2 walks and a hit batsman without recording an out, leaving the game with a 3-run lead and the bases loaded. Felix Ventura allowed all 3 inherited runners to score to tie the game, then allowed the game-winning runs in the eleventh, going 3.0 innings in all allowing 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 3 to take the loss (2-5). Five Drive hitters had multi-hit games, led by Mitch Dening's 4-for-7 effort, including 3 doubles, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored. Will Middlebrooks continued his hot hitting by going 3 for 5 with a double, an RBI, a walk and a run scored. Shannon Wilkerson and Ryan Dent each had 2 hits, a walk and 2 runs scored, both in 6 plate appearances, while Casey Kelly went 2 for 7 with an RBI. Pete Hissey and Oscar Tejeda each went 1 for 4 with 2 RBI as well.

Another great start by Kason Gabbard, another win for Lowell, this time of the 5-2 variety over Batavia. Gabbard went 6.0 scoreless innings to pick up his second win, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 5. Cesar Cabral went the rest of the way, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on just 1 hit, a 2-run home run by Muck Dogs third baseman Niko Vasquez, while striking out 4. Ronald Bermudez was one of the offensive stars for the Spinners, going 2 for 4 with a home run, a steal, 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Alex Hassan, who simply cannot do wrong at the plate these days, went 4 for 4 with an RBI to raise his average to .448. Wilfred Pichardo went 2 for 4 with a run scored.

The GCL Red Sox were not scheduled to play last night.

The DSL Red Sox allowed the DSL Astros to break a 1-1 tie with a run in the ninth and went on to lose by a 2-1 score, with both Astros runs ending up being unearned. Raynel Vellette started and lasted 5.0 innings, allowing just the 1 unearned run on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. Luis Bastardo pitched 2.2 scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts to preserve the tie, but Wilfi Santana (3-5) allowed an unearned run in the ninth on 1 hit to take the loss. Pedro Chourio was the lone bright spot at the plate for the Red Sox, going 3 for 4.

Player of the Night: Mitch Dening, who went 4 for 7 with 3 doubles, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored in a losing effort.