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August 18, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Rodriguez big again in Drive win


8/18 Cup of Coffee: With Pawtucket off, rain in Salem and the NYPL holding its All-Star Game, action was light on Tuesday. But that didn’t hold back the standout performances, nor the drama, as Sox affiliates split the remaining games.

Single runs in each of the first two innings were all Portland would get, as the Sea Dogs fell to Altoona (PIT) 4-2 at Hadlock Field. Ray Chang’s ninth home run of the season brought home the first run in the first, and an inning later, Nate Spears walked, stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a single off the bat of Che-Hsuan Lin. The lead held strong through the third, but Alex Wilson ran into trouble in the fourth, allowing 2 runs in that inning to tie the game and another an inning later to give the Curve the lead. In all, Wilson went the first 6.0 innings allowing those 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 3. Portland had a number of chances from there to even the score, leaving two runners on in the fifth, sixth, and ninth innings, but just couldn’t come up with that clutch hit late in the game. Chang led the way at the dish with his 2-for-3, 2-walk performance, while Luis Exposito also had a nice night, going 2 for 5.

Salem’s game at Winston-Salem (CWS) was suspended due to rain in the top of the third inning. The game will be resumed tonight at 6 PM, to be followed by tonight’s regularly scheduled contest.

Despite being out-hit 8-5, Greenville rode strong performances from three hurlers to topple Lexington (HOU) 5-0. First out of the chute for the Drive was Kendall Volz, who went the opening 3.0 innings and allowed only 2 hits while striking out 4. He was staked to an early 1-0 lead when Derrik Gibson walked, stole second, and later scored on a wild pitch in the first. It was Gibson’s 34th steal on the year. In the fourth, Greenville added to the lead when Reynaldo Rodriguez launched his eighth home run of the year out to left, a solo shot that made it 2-0. That’s when Chris Court took over on the mound, and proceeded to go the next 4.0 innings scoreless while allowing only 4 hits and a walk to earn the win. Greenville added insurance runs in the sixth, when Jeremy Hazelbaker scored on an error, and eighth, on Rodriguez’s second home run of the night, a two-run shot. Anatanaer Batista closed things out from there, firing the final 2.0 innings without incident. Rodriguez owned the dish in this one, going 2 for 3 with 2 home runs and 3 RBI, along with a hit-by-pitch.

Lowell was off on Tuesday as the New York-Penn League held its All-Star Game in Staten Island, NY, which the American League won 4-3 thanks to the work of a pair of Sox prospects. After the NL jumped out to an early lead, Lowell lead-off man Felix Sanchez, who also led off for the AL in this one, singled in the tying run in the third. In the fourth, however, defensive replacement and Lowell shortstop Jose Garcia made a critical two-out throwing error that led to 2 unearned runs for the NL, making it 3-1. But in the bottom of the eighth with two outs, Garcia atoned for his miscue, singling in the eventual winning run. Sanchez, who was 1 for 5, and Garcia, who was 1 for 2, were the only Spinners to see action in the game.

It was an epic back-and-forth battle in the GCL Tuesday, with both clubs trading heavy punches in the late innings, but in the fifteenth inning the Red Sox finally prevailed, trumping the Rays (TB) 14-11. The game began innocently enough, as the Rays scored in the first but the Red Sox tied the game in the second on Carson Blair’s first home run of the year. An error and a Jason Thompson triple brought home two more runs in the third to make it 3-1. Meanwhile, Raynel Velette had been cruising, allowing that unearned run in the first but putting up zeros after that for the next 4.0 innings. He ran into trouble in the sixth, however, when he and Luis Bastardo combined to allow 3 runs (1 earned) to give the Rays a 4-3 lead. But again the Red Sox struck right back, as Moko Moanaroa smoked an RBI double to center with two outs to tie things up once more in the seventh. However, the see-saw wasn’t done moving, as the Rays scored three more times against TJ Large in the eighth to take a commanding lead to the assumed final frame. After a strikeout to open the ninth, though, the Red Sox opened the floodgates. The next seven Sox hitters would reach, and when the dust had settled, 6 runs had crossed the plate. An RBI single by Heiker Meneses, who had struck out to open the inning, brought home a seventh run one out later, and the Sox headed to the bottom of the ninth with a four-run lead. But this game wasn’t over yet, as Scott Swinson had all kinds of trouble in the bottom half. After getting two quick outs, a single, a double, and catcher’s interference brought home a run and brought the tying run to the plate. A dramatic three-run home run later, and the game was headed for extra frames. The teams traded relatively innocuous innings over the next 4.0, but in the fifteenth, the Sox finally broke through without the benefit of a hit. A combination of 5 walks, 4 steals, 3 Rays wild pitches, a Rays error, and a balk brought home 3 Sox runs, and Matt Phillips slammed the door in the ninth to finally seal the win. There were lots of multi-hit games in this one, let by Blair, Meneses, and Henry Ramos, who each had 3 knocks.

The Rays (TB) would have their revenge in the DSL, as the Red Sox lost a late lead and the game, 4-3. That early lead came courtesy of a second-inning error and RBI singles by Dreily Guerrero and Jesus Loya in the third, making it 3-0 after three. But the Rays scored 2 runs in the fourth to make it 3-2, tied things in the seventh, and went up for good in the eighth. Raul Alcantara wend the first 5.0 in this one, allowing his 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk. Alexander Mateo ended up with the loss, also giving up 2 runs but in 3.0 innings. Loya led the way on offense, going 3 for 4.

Player of the Night: Reynaldo Rodriguez, who was 2 for 3 with 2 home runs and 3 RBI in a big win for Greenville.