A's MLN: Close Games Rule The Day

While the Oakland A's were losing a tight, 1-0 game to the Angels of Anaheim, their minor league affiliates were engaged in close battles of their own. Find out the results in this edition of <i>A's Minor League Notebook...</i>

Adam Morrissey Plays Hero, As River Cats Walk Off With Win

Designated hitter Adam Morrissey shook off a rough day, as he came through with a hit when it mattered most. Morrissey came to the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning with the game tied at 3-3 and the bases-loaded with one out. The Australian native had been 0-3 with three strikeouts and a walk before he took a Mike Venafro pitch and punched it into the outfield for the game-winning hit. Morrissey is off to a solid start to the season at the plate, and his batting average now sits at .333.

Jermaine Clark got the River Cats off to a fast start when he homered off of Las Vegas starter and major league veteran Pat Mahomes to lead off the game. The homer was Clark's second of the season. Sacramento upped their advantage in the second to 3-0 when the River Cats pushed two runs across the plate. Catcher Steven Jackson cracked his first homer of the season with one-out in the second. Mike Rouse and Clark followed with singles and Rouse scored with two-outs on an RBI single by Bobby Smith.

Sacramento's offense on Sunday was led by the top of their order. 1-2-3 hitters Clark, Matt Watson and Smith combined to go 7-12 on the night with two runs scored and two RBI. They also walked twice. Watson started off the season slowly, but he has been heating up over the past ten days and is now hitting .282 on the year.

River Cats starter Dan Meyer had his best outing of the season on Sunday, but was stuck with a no-decision when Mario Ramos couldn't hold a two-run lead in the sixth. Meyer, who was roughed up in his first two starts, had his second straight solid outing. He went five innings, allowing only one run and five hits. He struck out five and walked two. Meyer left with a 3-1 lead, but saw that lead quickly evaporate when Ramos allowed three hits and two runs while getting only two batters out in the top of the sixth. Tim Harikkala came on in the sixth with two on and two out, but he stranded those runners and worked three more scoreless innings to gain the win. The former Colorado Rockies reliever has been very impressive in Sacramento and now sports a 1.17 ERA.

The game-winning rally in the 9th inning began at the top of the River Cats' order when Clark singled off of Venafro to start the inning. Watson followed with a nice sacrifice bunt to move Clark into scoring position. Smith was walked intentionally despite the presence of Dan Johnson hitting behind him. Las Vegas was counting on the lefty Venafro matching up better with the lefty Johnson. The move back-fired, however, when the patient Johnson was able to eek out a clutch walk to load the bases. Morrissey followed with his game-winning hit and the River Cats climbed back to .500. They are now in a four-way tie for first.

Midland's Bullpen Finally Bends; Rockhound's Lose In 11

The Midland Rockhounds' fast start this season has been due in large part to the stellar work of their relief corps. However, on Sunday, the stellar Rockhounds' bullpen couldn't hold a one-run lead in the 10th and eventually succumbed in the 11th for a 7-6 loss to the San Antonio Missions.

For the first six innings, it didn't appear that the Rockhounds would even have a chance to win the game in extra-innings. Starter Steven Obenchain continued his season-long struggles on the mound, allowing four runs in 4.1 innings pitched. Obenchain's ERA now sits at 6.63. Leonard Landeros relieved Obenchain in the fifth and allowed a run in the sixth to up the Missions' lead to 5-0.

Midland roared back in the top of the 7th, scoring five runs to tie up the game. Jason Perry started the inning with his second homerun of the season. The Rockhounds then loaded the bases on a walk to Casey Meyers and back-to-back singles by Lloyd Turner and Mark Kiger. The hot-hitting Andrew Beattie pinch-hit for Steve Stanley and blooped a run-scoring single to right. Omar Quintanilla followed with an RBI force-out and the Rockhounds plated their fourth run on a wild pitch while Andre Ethier was at the plate. Ethier struck out, but Brant Colamarino drove in the game-tying run with an infield single to second.

Jairo Garcia kept the Missions' run total at five, as the right-handed reliever worked three impressive innings. Garcia allowed only two hits and a walk in those three frames. He struck out four batters and is now sporting an 0.84 ERA on the season.

Garcia was in-line for the win when the Rockhounds scratched out a run in the top of the 10th. Meyers singled to start the inning and was lifted when pitcher Drew Dickinson came in as a pinch-runner. Dickinson advanced to second when Turner's sacrifice bunt attempt was booted by Missions' pitcher Jeff Harris. However, Mark Kiger's sacrifice bunt was hit too hard and Dickinson was thrown out at third on the force. However, Beattie came through with a clutch single to center to drive in the go-ahead run.

Shawn Kohn came on in the bottom of the 10th to try to nail down the win for the Rockhounds. It wasn't Kohn's night, however, as his trouble began early when the control specialist hit the first batter of the inning. Pinch-runner Thomas Bohn Jr. stole second and advanced to third on a line-out to right. He then scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly to center.

Midland was unable to score in the top of the 11th. Kohn stayed on to pitch the bottom of the frame and allowed a lead-off single. He was on the verge of working out of the jam when he retired the next two batters without the runner advancing. However, the Missions' Jaime Bubela stole second with two-outs. Kohn then allowed his first walk of the season, setting up Ismael Castro to be the hero. Castro singled to left and the Missions walked off with the win.

Ports' Ninth-Inning Rally Falls Short; Stockton Loses, 7-5

Stockton's dormant offense awoke in the ninth inning on Sunday, but their comeback fell short. The Ports were trailing Visalia 7-1 entering the 9th, but they made the game close when they plated four runs. Ports starter Danelin Acevado was roughed up again, allowing six runs (four earned) in six innings. Acevado allowed only three hits, but was burned by seven walks.

Until their 9th inning outburst, the Ports offense was limited to first baseman Daric Barton's solo homerun in the fourth. The homerun was Barton's second on the season. Stockton had golden opportunities to score in the 7th and 8th innings, but were unable to get a clutch hit. In the 7th, the Ports loaded the bases with no-outs when Barton and Danny Putnam walked and Francis Gomez singled to move the runners up. However, Stockton was unable to plate even a single run when Richie Robnett and Dustin Majewski struck out and Luke Appert grounded out to end the inning. In the 8th, John McCurdy led-off the inning with a ground-rule double, but he was stranded at second.

The Ports finally broke through in the 9th. With one out, Gomez doubled to left. He moved to third on Robnett's single and scored on a single by Majewski. Appert doubled to right, scoring Robnett. Majewski scored on a passed ball to close the score to 7-4. McCurdy struck out for the second out of the inning, but the Ports gained new life when Kurt Suzuki reached on an error that scored Appert. Vasili Spanos stepped to plate representing the tying run, but his hard groundball was speared by Visalia's third baseman Kris Dufner and turned into a force out to end the game.

Ryan Ford Plays Stopper Again; Breaks Cougars' Losing Streak

It seems that these days, all the Cougars need to do to gain a win is start lefty Ryan Ford on the mound. At least, that has been the recipe this week, as the Cougars' last two victories have come with Ford starting the game. Stuck in a four-game slide and facing an 0-8 start at their home ballpark, the Cougars used a strong outing from Ford and a rare display of offense to grab the win, 6-5, over the South Bend Silver Hawks.

Ford went seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits. He struck out eight and walked none. The Cougars jumped out to an early lead, scoring three in the first and a single run in the second. Chalon Tietje gave the Cougars a much needed lift with a two-out, two-run single in the first inning. Gregorio Petit doubled to start the second frame and came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Melillo to give the Cougars that 4-0 lead. Kane County would cough the lead up, however, when Ford allowed a three-run homerun to South Bend centerfielder Jereme Milons in the third and gave up another run in the fourth.

The Cougars bounced back in the bottom of the fourth and scored two runs to take a lead they would never again relinquish. Tietje led off the fourth with a single and advanced to second on a groundball single by Wayment. Petit moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt. Ryan Ruiz struck out swinging, but when Kevin Melillo's groundball was booted by South Bend's first baseman Javier Brito, both runners scored.

Rob Semerano took over for Ford in the eighth inning and was able to gain the save, despite allowing a solo homerun in the top of the 9th. The Cougars are now 6-10 on the season.

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