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May 5, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Rizzo's bombs pace league-leading Salem


5/5 Cup of Coffee: While Portland was rained out, other Sox affiliates played a slate of exciting games. Pawtucket reversed a recent trend, Salem kept on rolling, and Greenville found itself involved in a pair of nail-biters down in Augusta.

It took a ninth-inning rally, but Pawtucket finally managed a win at Gwinnett, pulling out a 6-5 victory on Tuesday. Trailing 5-4 heading into the final frame, the PawSox loaded the bases on 2 walks and a hit batsman, setting up Bubba Bell to hit the game-tying sacrifice fly and Josh Reddick to hit the game-winning RBI single. The game also started well for Pawtucket when Angel Sanchez hit an RBI triple in the first and scored on an error by former Pawtucket super star Joe Thurston to make it 2-0. Sanchez was once again the lone Pawtucket player with multiple hits, going 2 for 4. Gwinnett tied the score with single runs in the next two innings, but Lars Anderson untied things again in the fourth by hitting a two-run home run, his first at the Triple-A level. While starter Randor Bierd struggled a bit, allowing 5 runs in 4.0 innings, the Pawtucket bullpen was solid, scattering 5 hits over the final 5.0 innings to preserve the score and set up the win.

Portland and Reading could not squeeze last night's game in, and will play a double-header on Saturday, June 5.

It was more late-inning scoring and another win for Sox affiliates, as Salem untied its score with Wilmington in the top of the tenth and took the Blue Rocks down, 7-4. Things began ominously for the Red Sox in this one, as they were down 3-0 after the first inning. It was a somewhat shaky start for Alex Wilson, who ultimately allowed 4 earned runs on 8 hits in 5.0 innings, though he did strike out 6 against only 1 walk. The Salem comeback began in the fourth, when Anthony Rizzo pulled his third home run of the year out to right. After his team scored two more in the fifth on 3 hits, Rizzo struck again with his fourth home run of the year to tie the game at 4. The big first baseman was one of five Salem batters with 2 hits in this one, going 2 for 5. Fast forward to the top of the tenth, when the scoring was fast and furious with two outs for Salem. Will Middlebrooks drew a two-out walk, and then Tim Federowicz, Ryan Dent, and Alex Hassan followed with a double, single, and triple to make it 7-4. All three men were also 2 for 5 in this one.

After Monday's rain-out in Augusta came two close games on Tuesday, with Greenville dropping game one by a 3-1 score. The Drive actually struck first in this one when Derrik Gibson singled home Zach Gentile in the third, but the lead wouldn't hold up. Ryan Pressly started and pitched well, giving up 2 runs (only 1 earned) in 5.0 innings, allowing only 3 hits and a walk and striking out 4. Pete Ruiz gave up a run in the sixth to make it 3-1, and while the Drive put the tying runs on base in the seventh, victory ended up just out of reach. Michael Almanzar was the offensive star in this one, going 2 for 3 with a double.

As hard to stomach as game one's loss was, game two was a true heartbreaker, as the Drive dropped a pitchers' duel, 1-0. Reymond Fuentes singled to lead off the game, but that was the last base runner Greenville would manage against GreenJackets starter Bryan Salsbury, who went the distance in this one. Aside from the run he allowed in the first inning, Yeiper Castillo was nearly his equal, also pitching a complete game. Castillo allowed 6 hits in his 6.0 innings, walking nobody while striking out 8 to take the hard-luck loss.

Player of the Night: Anthony Rizzo, who jacked two home runs as part of a 2-for-5 night and propelled Salem to victory yet again.