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PAWTUCKET â€” After having suffered eight straight defeats at Rochester and Lehigh Valley over the past eight days, the Pawtucket Red Sox desperately wanted to break that horrendous string against these same Red Wings on Thursday night.
The PawSox not only were swept in two consecutive four-game sets for the first time since last June 18-25, but went victory-less on a road trip of eight games or more dating back to 1988.
Manager Gary DiSarcina placed righty Chris Carpenter in charge of ending the recent misery, but he yielded a run in the first, then gave up a two-run blast to No. 9 batter Eric Farris in the second.
Things only got worse for Pawtucket early on, which lost its skipper after arguing a questionable call at first in the fourth.
The PawSox did manufacture five runs in the fifth frame to slice the Red Wingsâ€™ advantage to 7-6, but â€“ in the end â€“ righty reliever Shairon Martis survived a one-out walk to Dan Butler in the ninth, and Rochester claimed the 7-6 thriller before what was left of 5,533 fans at McCoy Stadium.
Southpaw Logan Darnell took the win after hurling four-plus frames. He gave up eight hits, six runs (all earned) and walked two while fanning four.
Carpenter surrendered four hits, three runs (all earned) and three walks while whiffing a quartet, and reliever Will Latimer went the next 2 1/3, yielding four hits, another three runs and four walks with two strikeouts.
Anthony Carter hurled a solid 2 1/3 in middle relief, allowing just two hits and a walk with two whiffs for Pawtucket..
With the PawSox trailing, 7-1, and two outs in the back half of the fourth, it seemed J.C. Linares had beat out a grounder, one bobbled by third baseman Delbinson Romero, but first-base ump Brad Myers called him out.
The ruling obviously upset Linares, not to mention DiSarcina, who was booted from the game as a result. Myersâ€™ move nevertheless seemed to infuriate the Sox in the fifth.
Ronald Bermudez opened it with a hit to center, and Xander Bogaerts drilled his seventh homer of the season to deep center to cut the lead to 7-3. Dan Butler followed with a single to left, and moved to third on Jeremy Hazelbakerâ€™s hit to right before Jonathan Diaz drew a walk to juice the bags.
Alex Hassan then knocked a two-run single to the left-center gap to slice it to 7-5, and Middlebrooks singled to reload the bases. Manager Gene Glynn quickly replaced southpaw starter Logan Darnell with fellow lefty Aaron Thompson.
What followed was â€“ in a word â€“ crazy. With Diaz at third and Hassan at second), Mark Hamil-ton grounded to Romero, who caught Hassan in a rundown. He threw to second baseman James Beresford to get Middlebrooks, and shortstop Doug Bernier eventually tagged out Hassan, but not before Diaz had crossed the plate.
After the unusual 5-4-6 double play, Thompson struck out Linares to escape.
Just like that, however, the hometowners had knifed the deficit to 7-6.
In the initial frame, Carpenter got leadoff Antoan Richardson to line to left, but walked Beresford and Chris Hermann. Designated hitter Chris Colabello then stroked a line-drive single to right to plate Beresford and send Hermann to third, but the hurler fanned Jeff Clement and Romero to escape the frame.
Rochester picked up where it left off in the second. Mitchell started it with an infield hit, then robbed second before Farris rapped his fourth dinger of the season over the top wall in left for the 3-0 cushion.
Carpenter also allowed Richardson to reach a bunt single, then walked Beresford, though Middlebrooks made a premier stop of Colabelloâ€™s grounder to thwart the surge.
With Will Latimer replacing Carpenter in the third, the Wings assembled a three-run flurry; the lefty issued walks to both Clement and Romero, and Mitchellâ€™s two-bagger to center scored Clement.
Bernier followed with a two-run single to left-center before an inning-ending twin killing, but the damage had been done: Rochester held a 6-0 lead.
In the interim, Darnell had cruised through the first 2 2/3 frames, but lost his no-hit â€“ and shutout â€“ bid when Hazelbaker drilled his eighth homer of the year onto the right-field patio.
The Soxâ€™ offense seemed poised to ignite when Jonathan Diaz ripped a single to left, but Darnell whiffed Hassan to abbreviate the rally.
Latimer struck out the initial two batters in the fourth, but Colabello crushed a shot just to the left of the back of the center-field concession stand, good for his 24th homer of the campaign. (In the process, he moved one closer to I.L.-leading Mauro Gomez of Buffalo (and formerly Pawtucket).
Clement immediately doubled off the wall in left, though Latimer closed the inning when Romero flied to right.
EXTRA BASES: The PawSox will continue this four-game set against Rochester tonight with a 7:05 p.m. tilt, with the next two slated for 6:05 p.m., Saturday (to be televised by NESN) and 1:05 p.m., Sunday.
Righty Rubby De La Rosa (2-2, 3.38 ERA) will battle fellow righthander P.J. Walters tonight. The first 5,000 fans entering the turnstiles at McCoy Stadium this evening will receive a free PawSox replica jersey, one with the No. 16 on the back.
Pawtucket has yet to announce the starters for the final two tilts of this set, though southpaw Andrew Albers (8-4, 3.29) will get the nod on Saturday and lefty Pedro Hernandez (2-2, 4.50) on Sunday.
From 2-3:15 p.m., Saturday, the third of four PawSox free youth clinics will take place inside the park, and it is open to youngsters of all ages. Skipper Gary DiSarcina, pitching coach Rich Sauveur and hitting coach Dave Joppie will be on hand â€“ not to mention several players â€“ to offer instructions and tips to the children.