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September 1, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Rodriguez has monster night in Drive win


9/1 Cup of Coffee: Despite having no shot at the playoffs, Pawtucket continued to play well on Tuesday, while Greenville kept its second-half title hopes alive thanks to a big performance at the dish.

Pawtucket got down early but kept at it, pecking away and eventually taking the lead en route to its eighth straight win, 6-5 over Rochester (MIN). Fabio Castro got off to a rocky start, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits over the first 5.0 innings, including 2 runs in the first and single runs in the second and third. A Bubba Bell home run in the first got Pawtucket on the board, and another bomb, this one off the bat of Lars Anderson, made it 4-2 after four. But the big blast came an inning later, when Aaron Bates lost a ball over the center field wall to drive home three and make it 5-4. A Dusty Brown double scored an insurance run in the eighth, and although Fernando Cabrera gave it back, he kept the lead intact in the ninth. Anderson and Brown were both 2 for 4 in the game.

Stephen Fife and Ryne Lawson formed a nearly perfect tandem on Tuesday, limiting Binghamton (NYM) to 3 hits as Portland prevailed, 6-0. Fife went the first 6.0 innings in this one, allowing just 2 hits while striking out 5, and Lawson followed with 3.0 innings allowing only 1 hit, striking out 4. Neither man walked a batter. The Sea Dogs staked their starter to an early lead thanks to Anthony Rizzo’s two-run double and Ryan Lavarnway’s sacrifice fly in the first. Will Vazquez’s first Eastern League home run of the year made it 4-0 after two, and back-to-back home runs by Lavarnway and Luis Exposito in the fifth capped the scoring. Portland’s 8 hits were spread pretty evenly in this one, with only Exposito registering more than 1, going 2 for 4.

A 5-0 hole was simply too deep for Salem in game one against Potomac (WAS), as the Red Sox fell 5-3 in seven. All those runs scored against Mike Lee, who only lasted 2.0 innings and got touched for 6 hits and 2 walks. Zach Hammes and Kyle Fernandes held the Nationals scoreless from there, but it wasn’t quite enough. Salem attempted the comeback starting in the second, when Oscar Tejeda drove in a run with a triple and scored on a Ryan Dent groundout. The Red Sox had a golden chance to get even in the sixth, loading the bases with nobody out, but Tejeda grounded into a double play, scoring a run but killing the rally. The Red Sox loaded the bases again in the seventh, this time with two outs, but couldn’t cash in. Drew Hedman was perfect on the afternoon, going 2 for 2 to lead the offense.

In game two, Salem let a late lead slip, but came back to walk off with a 3-2 win over Potomac. The Nationals again scored first, grabbing a run in the opening frame, but from there Mark Holliman was dominant, allowing only 2 more hits over the next 5.0 innings. He took a lead to the seventh thanks to Alex Hassan and Tejeda, who hit back-to-back home runs to open the fourth, but ran into trouble there, allowing a double before departing. In his stead, Cesar Cabral allowed a double of his own to tie the score, then a single to put men on the corners with one out, but a big double play got the Red Sox out of the inning with the score tied. In the bottom of the seventh with two outs, a walk, an error, and two more walks forced in the winning run, with the final free pass being awarded to Hassan. The walk-off hero was 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 RBI in this one, and Tim Federowicz joined him in the multi-hit club, going 2 for 3.

A day after losing a tough one to Charleston (NYY), the Drive took down the Riverdogs in a 10-7 shootout on Tuesday to preserve a 0.5 game lead in the SAL North. Yeiper Castillo had a bit of a rough go of it in the early innings, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in his 3.0-inning effort and leaving with the scored 4-2 thanks to a two-run Reynaldo Rodriguez double in the third. In the fifth, however, Rodriguez outdid himself, launching a one-out grand slam to straightaway center field to make it 6-4 Drive. A Sean Killeen RBI single in the sixth made it 7-4, but back came Charleston, scoring twice in the sixth off Pete Perez and once in the seventh off Anatanaer Batista to tie the game. But in the top of the eighth, Kolbrin Vitek doubled to lead off the inning and scampered home two batters later on a wild pitch to reclaim the lead for Greenville. Jeremy Hazelbaker singled in another run later in the inning, Reymond Fuentes batted in a run in the ninth with a sacrifice fly, and Jordan Flasher slammed the door over the final two frames to seal the win. Rodriguez was a beast in this game, going 4 for 4 with 6 RBI and a steal to lead the Drive offense. Vitek had his third straight two-hit game, going 2 for 5, and the rest of the lineup ran rampant on the base paths. Drive hitters collected 8 steals in this one, including 2 for Hazelbaker, giving him 60 now on the season.

A young Lowell lineup couldn’t cash in on its chances, and the Spinners fell 4-0 to first-place Tri-City (HOU). Madison Younginer was the tough-luck loser in this one, as he allowed 3 runs on 5 hits in 5.0 innings. Charle Rosario held the Valley Cats scoreless from there, but the offense just couldn’t push a run across. Lowell had baserunners all night, pounding out 8 hits, but very few chances with runners in scoring position, going 0 for 3 as a team. Jose Garcia, Josue Peley, and Henry Ramos each had 2 hits.

Player of the Night: Reynaldo Rodriguez, who was 4 for 4 with a double, a home run, 6 RBI and a steal in a big 10-7 Greenville win.