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July 2, 2011 at 8:07 AM

Bullpens perform valiantly in multiple close victories

7/2 Cup of Coffee: It was an exciting day across the organization, with many games coming down to the wire on Friday. Affiliates came out on top in the majority of games, going 4-3 on the night.

The two teams combined for 23 hits, but the Rochester Red Wings (MIN) doubled up Pawtucket, 8-4. The Red Wings scored six times in the first four innings against Felix Doubront, who battled his way through 6.0 innings, allowing 6 runs on 10 hits with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. Jason Rice allowed two runs over his 2.0 innings of relief, while Randy Williams pitched a scoreless ninth. Ryan Lavarnway was a bright spot for Pawtucket. The catcher continued to swing a hot bat at the Triple-A level with a fourth-inning home run. Between Portland and Pawtucket, Lavarnway now has 19 homers on the season. Lars Anderson also added a pair of RBIs in the loss.

Portland also dropped its game, falling to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR), 6-2. The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning, when the Fisher Cats scored two runs against Brock Huntzinger. He finished with 6.2 innings pitched, with 5 runs and 8 hits allowed with 1 walk and 7 strikeouts. Kyle Fernandes tossed the final 2.1 innings, allowing just an unearned run. Chih-Hsien Chiang grounded out in the sixth for Portland's first run, while a solo home run by Jeremy Hazelbaker in the eighth led to the only other Sea Dogs run.

Though Salem outhit its opponents 7-4, the team was unable to get the timely base hit and lost to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC), 3-0. Ryan Pressly allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks in his 6.2 of work, but was still touched up for 3 runs and was saddled with the loss. Anatanaer Batista pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings in relief. All of Salem's hits came from the three through seven spots, with Miles Head and Josue Peley each collecting two, but the Red Sox could not push across a run. They had the bases loaded in the second and fifth innings, but a strikeout ended the threat both times.

Greenville scored in just one inning, but a three-run sixth was enough to dispatch of the Hickory Crawdads (TEX). 3-2. After Manny Rivera allowed a run in the first, he settled down to finish his outing with 5.0 innings pitched and 1 run allowed on 2 hits, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. With the Drive still trailing 1-0 in the sixth, Drew Hedman doubled to right to score a pair. Michael Almanzar added the insurance with an RBI single of his own. Justin Erasmus picked up the win in relief, tossing 2.0 innings of scoreless ball. Dennis Neuman came on in the eighth to earn the save, though he did allow a run in the ninth.

In another low-scoring affair, Lowell shut out the Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU), 2-0. Luis Diaz pitched very well, allowing just 2 hits in his 5.2 innings of work, with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. He had to settle for a no-decision, however, with the game still scoreless when he left. After Kevin Brahney completed the top of the sixth, Lowell's first three batters reached on singles, including an RBI base hit from Joantoni Garcia. A sacrifice fly from Jose Garcia later in the inning gave the Spinners their second and final run of the game, but it was enough for the victory. Michael McCarthy pitched the ninth for his third save of the season.

Down in the Gulf Coast, the GCL Red Sox held on for a 3-2 victory over the GCL Twins (MIN). The Twins scored two in the first off of starter Francisco Taveras, but the Red Sox cut the lead in half in the bottom half thanks to a single by Jose Colorado. Taveras allowed just those two runs in his 5.0 of work, yielding a walk and 7 hits while striking out 5. The Twins continued to lead 2-1 until the fifth, when the Red Sox took the lead on a two-run single from Kendrick Perkins. Alex Mateo was brilliant in relief, allowing just 1 hit in 3.2 innings of work. Yunior Ortega got the final out for the save.

The DSL Red Sox also came out victorious, with a 3-0 shutout over the DSL Indians (CLE). Much like his New York-Penn League counterpart in Diaz, starter Jonathan Aro pitched very well, but the offense remained dormant until his outing was finished. Aro gave up 4 hits over his 5.0 innings with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts, but left with the game still scoreless. It remained a 0-0 score all the way to the bottom of the eighth, when the Red Sox finally broke through. Aneudis Peralta doubled in a run, then a sacrifice fly from David Sopilka made it 2-0. A passed ball brought home Peralta for the final Red Sox run. The win went to Carlos Pinales, who threw the final 4.0 innings allowing 3 hits and fanning 5 batters.

Player of the Night: Alex Mateo, whose relief appearance was vital in a 3-2 victory by the GCL Red Sox over the GCL Astros. Mateo went 3.2 innings, allowing just 1 hit to preserve the win for Francisco Taveras.