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July 8, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Middlebrooks stays hot, ignites Salem victory

7/8 Cup of Coffee: A potential pitching reinforcement for the big club began his role change in Pawtucket, Portland wore out their rivals from the Granite State and Salem brought home a key victory thanks to a power display from our co-player of the night in Wednesday night's action.

Pawtucket used stellar pitching to avoid being swept as they downed the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI) 4-2. Randor Bierd received the starting nod for the PawSox, going 3.0 innings while allowing 1 run on 2 hits and punching out a pair. Rich Hill followed Bierd and picked up his first victory as a member of the Red Sox organization for his 2.0 innings of work in which he allowed 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks. Michael Bowden made his first appearance out of the bullpen pitching a scoreless sixth and seventh while only allowing 1 hit. Chad Paronto and Fernando Cabrera each had a scoreless inning of relief to seal the victory for Pawtucket. The PawSox conducted all their scoring in the sixth inning, plating four runs on a Jorge Jimenez RBI single, a Gil Velazquez RBI double and a Ryan Kalish RBI single. Kalish, Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick each had two hits to lead the Pawtucket offense.

In Portland, the Sea Dogs pounded out 13 hits as they pounced all over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) 11-4. Alex Wilson picked up his first victory as a member of the Sea Dogs by going 6.0 innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6. Santo Luis relieved Wilson, hurling 2.0 innings while allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits and a walk. Jason Rice pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out the first two batters he faced. Portland began their offensive outburst with a Ray Chang solo home run in the second that tied the game at 1-1. The very next inning Yamaico Navarro and Anthony Rizzo smoked RBI singles and Chih-Hsien Chiang ripped an RBI double into the gap to put the Sea Dogs on top 4-1. Navarro's RBI single in the fourth expanded the Portland lead to four. In the seventh, four more runs crossed home as Chang lofted an RBI single and Matt Sheely laced an RBI triple that cleared the bases. Nate Spears capped his perfect 4 for 4 evening in the eighth with a two-run home run that gave the Sea Dogs an 11-4 advantage. In addition to the home run, Spears added a single, two doubles, two RBI and two stolen bases as he drove the Portland offense.

Salem needed just four hits to brush off the Kinston Indians (CLE) 4-1. Mike Lee started the game for the Red Sox and was brilliant in his 5.1 innings of work, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3. Cesar Cabral followed with 2.2 innings of relief, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 4. Kyle Fernandes picked up his seventh save by hurling a scoreless ninth inning. Will Middlebrooks continued his torrid start to July by hammering a two-run home run in the first inning to help Salem jump out to an early 2-0 lead. In the fifth, Mitch Dening looped a two-out RBI single to put the Red Sox on top 3-0. Middlebrooks hit his second home run of the evening in the sixth to give Salem the 4-0 advantage. Middlebrooks and Dening both had multi-hit evenings to lead the Red Sox offense.

Greenville's bullpen could not hold on to a lead as they fell to the Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW) 7-4. Kendal Volz tossed the first 5.0 innings for the Drive, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits while striking out 4. Down 2-0 in the fourth, Greenville scored four times on an RBI triple by Shannon Wilkerson, a Reymond Fuentes RBI single and a Zach Gentile sacrifice fly to take a 4-2 advantage. Reliever Anatanaer Batista came on in the sixth and was roughed up in his lone inning of work, allowing 4 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. Chris Court pitched the final 2.0 innings of the contest and did not allow a base runner as he struck out 4.

Just like their big league counterparts, the GCL Red Sox could not figure out the GCL Rays (TB) as they lost 3-0. Francisco Taveras went the first 4.0 innings for the Red Sox, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks to pick up the loss. Miguel Celestino threw the final 5.0 innings of the game and allowed just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 5. Heiker Meneses and Leonel Escobar each had two hits to pace the Red Sox offense.

In a back-and-forth tussle, the DSL Red Sox were outlasted by the DSL Pirates (PIT) 10-9. Xander Bogaerts was 2 for 5 with 3 runs scored with a home run and an RBI. Curtney Doran had a 2 for 4 evening and Aly Gonzalez was a perfect 2 for 2 with 3 walks and a run scored to lead the Red Sox offense. Francellis Montas received the start for the Red Sox and allowed 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk in his 2.0 innings of work. William Cuevas followed with 3.2 innings of relief, allowing 5 runs on 6 hits and a walk while striking out 3. Ellis Jimenez went 2.2 innings of relief and picked up the loss as he allowed the decisive run to score in the ninth. The loss drops the Red Sox to below .500 at 17-18.

Co-Players of the Night: Will Middlebrooks and Nate Spears. Middlebrooks was 2 for 4 with 2 home runs, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI in Salem's 4-1 victory over Kinston. Spears was a perfect 4 for 4 with 4 runs scored, two doubles, a home run, 2 RBI and 2 stolen bases in Portland's 11-4 victory over New Hampshire.