PAWTUCKET – The Pawtucket Red Sox, already off to its finest start to a season in club history, seemed poised to move to 10-1 after holding a 3-1 cushion through seven innings on Monday night.
But righty reliever Chris Carpenter surrendered the Lehigh Valley IronPigs five runs in the top of the eighth, and the PawSox ultimately suffered an 8-3 International League-North beatdown before 3,849 fans at McCoy Stadium.
Josh Fields, the visitors’ No. 5 batter, finished 4-for-4 with two homers, a double, four RBI and a trio of runs scored as the IronPigs improved to 5-5. Michael Martinez helped out, going 2-for-3 with two RBI.
The Sox fell to 9-2, despite premier mound efforts from starter Allen Webster and Oscar Villareal.
Webster scattered five hits (without a walk) and whiffed seven through the first five, while Villareal didn’t allow a hit and walked two while striking out a pair in the sixth and seventh.
With the PawSox up, 3-1, entering the eighth inning, Carpenter came in from the bullpen to face the IronPigs’ Nos. 2, 3 and 4 batters. Turns out, they sent 10 to the plate.
Cody Asche opened the frame with a walk, and Darin Ruf plated him with a double to left-center, then took third on a wild pitch. Fields’ two-bagger to the right-center gap scored Ruf to knot the game at 3-3.
Cody Overbeck then knocked a hit to right and Tyson Gillies walked to load the bags, and – after Carpenter whiffed Steven Lerud for the first out – No. 9 batter Michael Martinez lofted an opposite-field single to left to drive in Fields and Overbeck.
Gillies later crossed the plate after Cesar Hernandez reached on first baseman Brandon Snyder’s bobble.
Carpenter eventually got Castro and Asche to ground to shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Reliever Anthony Carter opened the ninth by walking Ruf, and Fields walloped his second dinger of the game into the right-field seats to seal it.
Justin De Fratus, who allowed just one hit in the seventh, earned his first win of the campaign. Carpenter took the loss, and also suffered his first blown save.
It appeared the PawSox would start fast in the bottom of the first when leadoff batter Brock Holt ripped a single and stole second. With Jose Iglesias in the box, however, home plate umpire Ben May called a third strike against him, and also proclaimed Holt out after he had stolen third.
He did so citing batter’s interference.
With two down, designated hitter J.C. Linares (David Ortiz was another late scratch) drilled a double down the left-field line, but Mark Hamilton flied to left to end the threat.
In the top of the second, Webster allowed Josh Fields a leadoff dinger, one that landed high up on the left-field berm, to give Lehigh Valley a 1-0 cushion.
Pawtucket, though, answered with a trio in the third. Justin Henry began the surge with a hit to left, and – with one out – Holt walked before righty starter Tyler Cloyd issued a two-out free bag to Linares to juice the bases.
Hamilton then ripped a single to center, one that easily plated Henry and Holt, but – when Tyson Gillies bobbled the ball – Linares hustled in for the 3-1 cushion.
Villareal replaced Webster in the sixth and gave up a pair of walks, but evaded any damage. He also hit leadoff hitter Michael Martinez in the seventh, but Dan Butler threw him out attempting to rob second. Villareal then fanned Hernandez and forced Castro to pop out to short.
As for Ortiz’ absence from the lineup for the second straight game, skipper Gary DiSarcina stated afterward that he was scratched due to some mild left heel pain.
Media types in the press box seemed puzzled when Linares strolled into the batter’s box in the bottom of the first instead of “Papi,” as the 37-year-old DH had been scheduled to bat third in the lineup.
“I saw him trot out to left field, and – when I came back (into the clubhouse), the trainer (Jon Jochim) said he had … pain,” DiSarcina noted. “He was removed for precautionary reasons. It’s a little soreness, so we weren’t going to run him up there. We’ll reexamine him (today), and a decision will be made.”
EXTRA BASES: There were no player moves on Monday … In today’s matinee 12:05 start, IronPigs’ righthander Jonathan Pettibone (0-1, 10.13 ERA) is expected to face righty Steven Wright (1-0, 2.70), while southpaw Cesar Jimenez (0-0, 0.00) will take on fellow lefty Chris Hernandez (0-0, 3.12) on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m … As for Thursday, another 12:05 early tilt, southpaw Adam Morgan (1-0, 1.29) should battle righty Terry Doyle (0-0, 2.79) … Tolman High’s baseball team is scheduled to face the varsity club from Newtown, Conn. in a non-league game inside McCoy Stadium at 11:30 p.m., Saturday. The public is invited to the event, and tickets are available for $5 per person. They may be purchased at the PawSox Box Office, or by calling 724-7300. Proceeds from the contest will go the Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Fund, which was created to provide support to volunteer and professional workers who responded to the tragic Dec. 14 shooting inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.