PAWTUCKET -- Three consecutive two-out singles off Kevin Millwood in the sixth inning doomed the PawSox in their series-opening 3-2 loss to the Louisville Bats.
Millwood struck out Devin Meoraco and Danny Dorn to begin the sixth for his ninth and tenth strikeouts of the evening. Chris Valaika and Mike Costanzo followed with singles to put runners at first and third- still with two outs. Louisville's ninth batter, Kristopher Negron, followed Costanzo's base-hit with an RBI single to make it 3-2 Bats and that was the last run scored in the ballgame by either side.
Millwood pitched well but could not escape the sixth inning unscathed and walks away with his first loss as a member of the PawSox. He struck out a season-high 10 batters to eclipse the seven batters he struck out July 23 against Louisville. In two starts against the Bats this season Millwood has 17 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. Pawtucket is now 0-2 in the last two games in which Millwood has started after being 10-0 in Millwood's first ten starts.
Trailing by one in the ninth inning, Pawtucket got the leadoff man on base when Ronald Bermudez rolled a single up the middle past the dive of Negron at shortstop. Che-Hsuan Lin and Hector Luna were unable to advance Bermudez, but the winning run still stepped to the plate with two outs in Ryan Lavarnway. Pawtucket's folk hero since he was called-up from Double-A June 13 was unable to be the hero one more time and he struck out swinging to end the ballgame.
Lavarnway was 0-for-2 on the night and failed to put the ball in play at all against Louisville pitching. He walked in his first three plate appearances before striking out in his last two times up.
Eight of Pawtucket's first 15 batters reached base against Louisville starting pitcher Travis Wood. Despite the plethora of early baserunners the PawSox were only able to break through for a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning. The first six baserunners for Pawtucket reached on five walks and a hit-by-pitch and it wasn't until Lars Anderson poked a single to right field that Pawtucket recorded their first hit.
The hit by Anderson knocked in Pawtucket's first run and Luis Exposito followed with an RBI groundout to shortstop the next batter to tie the game 2-2. Pawtucket would not be able to muster any more offense over the final six innings.
Louisville starter Travis Wood picks up the win by allowing two runs over five innings. He walked eight batters, but he surrendered only three hits to Pawtucket in pushing his overall season record to 2-1.
In the third inning, Louisville's Dave Sappelt lined a single into center field for the first hit of the game for either team up to that point. The hit extended his personal hitting streak to six games and he has now hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games.
He singled in his next at-bat and finished the game 2-for-3. In the hitting streak he is hitting 12-for-25 (.480) and in his last 16 games Sappelt is 25-for-67 (.373).
Pawtucket's bullpen has not allowed an earned run in a streak that has been stretched to 12.2 IP. In the past four games, the PawSox bullpen has allowed just one run in 14.1 IP (0.63 ERA).
The PawSox play the second game of an eight-game homestand against Louisville Sunday afternoon. First pitch for Sunday's game versus the Bats is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. with Tony Pena Jr. (7-4, 3.62 ERA) taking the mound for Pawtucket against the Bats' Daryl Thompson (2-1, 3.21 ERA).