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July 15, 2011 at 8:12 AM

Couch impressive in Greenville victory

7/15 Cup of Coffee: With All-Star festivities over, the affiliates returned to a full slate of action Thursday. Only Pawtucket and Greenville managed to find the victory column, as Portland, Salem and Lowell were edged in close contests.

Pawtucket received solid starting pitching and just enough offense in a 3-2 victory over the Durham Bulls (TB). Brandon Duckworth started the second half strong, going 6.0 innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits while striking out 5. Scott Atchison added 1.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, striking out 2. Michael Bowden picked up his tenth save for his scoreless inning of work, walking a pair and striking out 2. Down 2-0 in the fourth, Pawtucket scored its only runs of the contest on a Lars Anderson RBI double, Hector Luna sacrifice fly and a Nate Spears RBI single. Spears and Ryan Lavarnway were both 2 for 4 to lead the PawSox offense.

In Portland, a tight battle broke the way of the New Britain Rock Cats (MIN), 5-4. Miguel Gonzalez received the start for the Sea Dogs, going 4.0 innings, allowing 4 runs (2 earned) on 2 hits and 5 walks, striking out 5. Junichi Tazawa received the loss for his 3.1 innings of relief, allowing 1 run on 3 hits while punching out 4. Caleb Clay added 1.2 scoreless innings of relief, walking 2 and striking out 3. Down 4-0 in the fifth, Portland cut the Rock Cats lead in half on a Jeremy Hazelbaker two run home run. In the sixth, the Sea Dogs tied the game on a Will Middlebrooks two run home run. Unfortunately for Portland, the home runs were the only offense they received and a key error by Ryan Khoury in the eighth allowed New Britain to claim victory.

Despite a late charge, Salem fell to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX), 6-5. Drake Britton dropped to 1-8 despite a solid 3.0 inning performance in which he allowed 1 run on 5 hits while striking out 6. Pete Ruiz provided 3.0 innings of relief, allowing 5 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. Kendal Volz tossed 2.0 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, allowing just 1 hit, striking out 2. Down 4-0 in the sixth, the Red Sox scratched out their first run of the evening on a Jorge Padron RBI single. In the seventh, a David Mailman RBI single made the score 5-2 in favor of Myrtle Beach. A wild pitch and a Miles Head two run home run in the eighth brought the Red Sox within one, but they were unable to scrape together another run.

Greenville used a 4 run eighth inning to propel them to a 5-1 victory over the Lakewood BlueClaws (PHI). Keith Couch hurled 7.0 innings for the Drive, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 8. Michael Gleason picked up the victory for his 2.0 innings of scoreless relief, allowing 1 hit and 2 walks, striking out 1. After Lakewood scored the first run of the game in the top of the sixth, Greenville responded in the bottom half of the inning with a Christian Vazquez RBI single. In a wild eighth inning that featured three members of the BlueClaws being ejected, the Drive plated four runs on a Drew Hedman RBI double, and back-to-back RBI singles by Vazquez and Henry Ramos. Vazquez was 3 for 4 to lead the Drive offense.

Despite holding an advantage in the hit column, Lowell was clipped by the Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI), 3-1. Jason Garcia provided a solid performance on the mound for the Spinners, hurling 5.0 innings, allowing an unearned run on 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. Hunter Cervenka picked up the loss, adding 3.2 innings of relief, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks while punching out 5. Andrew Jones struck out the only batter he faced. Down 1-0 in the seventh, Jason Thompson hit a solo home run to tie the game, 1-1. The Crosscutters added singular runs in the eighth and the ninth to claim victory. Garin Cecchini was 2 for 2 with a double, 2 walks and 2 stolen bases to lead the Spinners offense.

A day after sweeping a doubleheader, the GCL Red Sox fell to the GCL Rays (TB), 7-4. Sergio Gomez went 6.0 innings in the start, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits while striking out 3. Matt Kramer added 0.1 innings of relief, allowing 1 run on 3 walks. Renny Parthemore received the loss for his 2.1 innings of work, allowing 3 runs (none earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks, punching out 2. Yunior Ortega retired the only batter he faced in relief. The Red Sox got out to a quick start in the first, receiving a two run home run from David Chester. Down 3-2 in the sixth, Matthew Gedman’s RBI double tied the game, 3-3. Chester’s solo home run to open the eighth inning tied the contest once again, this time at 4-4. A key fielding error by Parthemore in the ninth allowed the Rays to bring home three runs to seal the victory.

A day after pulling out a close contest, the DSL Red Sox were drubbed by the DSL Royals (KC), 14-6. Jeffry Fernandez had a rough start, failing to get an out while allowing 3 runs on 2 hits and 4 walks. Ricardo Betancourt added 4.0 innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits and 4 walks. Leonel Vazquez was next out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, tossing 2.0 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits while striking out 1. Carlos Pinales followed Vazquez with 1.0 inning of relief, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits while striking out 2. Roberto Duncan rounded out the game with an inning of relief, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits. The Red Sox actually held a 1-0 lead after the top of the first, plating a run on a David Sopilka RBI single. Down 6-1 in the fifth, Deiner Lopez added an RBI single to bring the Red Sox to within four. In the eighth, the Red Sox brought home four runs on an Alixon Suarez sacrifice fly, two wild pitches and an RBI single by Duncan.

Player of the Night: Keith Couch, who went 7.0 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits while striking out 8 in Greenville’s 5-1 victory over Lakewood.