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August 21, 2012 at 7:39 AM

Cup of Coffee: Bradley hurt, Britton excellent as Sea Dogs get extra-inning win

8/21 Cup of Coffee: On a full slate of Monday games down on the farm, Portland had a costly extra-inning victory, while the GCL and DSL affiliates both held on to early leads. 
After falling into an 8-1 deficit, Pawtucket chipped away but could not complete the comback, falling 9-6 to the Rochester Red Wings (MIN). Starter Nelson Figueroa was roughed up, allowing eight runs – seven earned – on five hits without escaping the third inning. The bullpen then stepped in and kept the PawSox in the game, starting with 3.1 innings of shutout pitching by Tony Peña, Jr. Peña allowed only one hit and did not walk a batter while striking out a pair. Rich Hill followed with an easy one-two-three inning in his first appearance since his rehab assignment was transferred to Pawtucket. Daniel Bard had an encouraging performance, pitching a scoreless eighth inning and ending strings of four consecutive appearances allowing a run and six in a row in which he'd walked a batter.

At the plate, Daniel Nava continued his rehab with a solo home run, a positive sign as he's likely to see significant playing time in left field at the major league level following Carl Crawford's elbow surgery. Tony Thomas also went deep for Pawtucket. Nate Spears had a big night, going 3 for 4 with a walk, a triple, two RBI and a run scored.

With less than two weeks to go in the regular season, Pawtucket falls 5.0 games behind Scranton in the North Division. With Lehigh Valley rained out last night, the PawSox lead in the Wild Card has shrunk to a half-game.
Portland took a 4-3 victory over the New Britain RockCats in 10 innings, but the bigger news was the injury to Jackie Bradley, Jr. After Bradley took the first pitch of the game to right field for a single, he turned his left ankle making the turn at second base on a Jeremy Hazelbaker base hit. He was removed from the game, but was able to put weight on the left leg, giving hope that it is not a serious injury. After a 30-minute delay while the grounds crew applied drying agent to the infield, play resumed. The stoppage did not seem to affect starting pitcher Drake Britton (pictured). The left-hander allowed two runs on five hits in 7.0 innings of work, striking out three and walking one. Britton has allowed only six earned runs in 34.2 innings over his last six starts, lowering his ERA since his June promotion to 3.60.

With the score knotted at three in the tenth, Travis Shaw led off with a double and advanced to third on a Xander Bogaerts single. Bogaerts then tried to steal second, but left early and found himself in a pickoff situation. He smartly got himself into a rundown, but was unable to continue it long enough for Shaw to score. Fortunately, the following batter was Peter Hissey, who ripped a single to center to plate Shaw. Bogaerts had another two-hit night, his third in a row and seventh in ten games since his promotion. Ryan Dent had three hits to break out of a 4 for 28 skid.
Salem dropped a 5-1 decision to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX), despite a solid outing by Matt Barnes. Barnes allowed only one run coming on a fourth-inning homer in his 4.0 innings of work. He gave up five hits and stuck out three without walking a batter. Marco Duarte took the loss in his second consecutive rough outing since the return from his suspension. A trio of Myrtle Beach pitchers kept the Salem offense silent, allowing only five hits. Two of those hits belonged to Drew Hedman, who also walked twice. 
Struggles continued for Greenville, which lost its fourth straight and 12th in its last 14 games, falling 4-1 to the Augusta GreenJackets (SF). The Drive lineup was quieted by Augusta's Clayton Blackburn, who outpitched Noe Ramirez. The right-handed Ramirez fell to 2-6 on the season as he allowed four runs on six hits in 6.0 innings of work, striking out seven and walking one. Matty Ott and Tyler Lockwood teamed up for 3.0 innings of scoreless relief in the losing effort. 
Lowell's offense continued the trend, managing only five hits in a 2-1 loss to the Hudson Valley Renegades (TB). Deven Marrero scored in the fourth inning following a triple for the only run the Spinners mustered. Mike Augliera took the loss, allowing two runs in 3.0 innings, walking and striking out one apiece. The walk was only the third allowed in 29.1 innings on the year. Tyler Wilson had an excellent outing coming from the pen, tossing 5.0 shutout innings, giving up only three hits and striking out four without walking a batter. 
Four GCL pitchers combined on a two-hitter in a 2-1 victory over the GCL Orioles. Mario Alcantara got the start, allowing only one hit in his three shutout frames. Cody Kukuk followed with 3.0 hitless innings, striking out four and walking two, earning his second win in only four appearances since returning from the restricted list. Jeffrey Wendelken struck out a pair in his perfect seventh inning, as the 13th-rounder lowered his ERA to 1.40 on the year. Carlos Pinales finished off the gem to get credit for the save, giving up an unearned run on one hit in 2.0 innings of work while striking out three. The fantastic pitching overcame a Red Sox lineup that had only five hits on the night.

The win keeps the Red Sox 2.0 games ahead of the GCL Twins with five games remaining in the season. The Red Sox and Twins will finish the season with a head-to-head two game series on Friday and Saturday.
Breaking the trend, offense was not in short supply as the DSL Red Sox battered the DSL Pirates1, 10-8. Robert Del Rosario drove in four runs and scored two of his own as part of a 2 for 4 night. Manuel Margot also went 2 for 4 with two runs, two RBI, a walk, double and a triple. Andres Garcia added three hits, three runs and a pair of stolen bases. Jose Ortega picked up the win, allowing two runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings of work, striking out two without a walk.

The Red Sox currently sit in fourth place in the tightly packed Boca Chica North Division, only 2.0 games behind the DSL Mets2.  The win pulls them to within a game of the Pirates for the wild card spot.
Player of the Day: After a miserable 2011, Drake Britton has turned things around with a fantastic 2012. The hard-throwing lefty has been dominant over his last six starts, compiling a 1.56 ERA in 34.2 innings, striking out 32 and walking 14. Coming off of a 1-13, 6.91 season, Britton is the clear favorite as comeback player of the year in the Red Sox minor league system.

Photo credit: Drake Britton by Kelly O'Connor