A's MLN: Sharpe Struggles; Hounds Edge Closer

Ben Fritz struggled for the second straight start while Charles Thomas continued his hot hitting; Midland moved one game closer to the playoffs behind Danny Putnam; Luis Perez hit streak at 17 games; Jermaine Mitchell hit streak over.

Sacramento lost to Tucson, 8-1

Ben Fritz, likely suffering from late-season fatigue in his first full year back from Tommy John Surgery, failed to make it past the fifth inning for the second straight start. The right-hander gave up eight runs for the second consecutive start and left after 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday night. Fritz's ERA has remained above five for much of his stint at Triple-A and he's now logged 161 innings between Sacramento and Midland in '06.

Charles Thomas extended his hitting streak to 10 games and is batting .367 in 24 games this month. Prior to August, Thomas was batting .208 over June and July. The 26-year-old is having his best year since 2000, when he batted .301 at short-season Class-A Yakima in the Dodgers' system. He is batting .281 in 109 games overall with the Cats. His nine home runs this season (including eight this month) are a career-high.

Midland defeated Frisco, 8-7

The RockHounds knew they'd have to play well against second-place Frisco in the final week of the regular season. They did just that on Wednesday, winning their seventh consecutive game to take a 3.5 game lead in the Texas League's Southern Division over the RoughRiders.

Danny Putnam homered in back-to-back innings and tied a season-high five RBIs in the win. His three-run shot in the eighth erased a two-run deficit and gave Midland the lead for good. Brian Stavisky's average is back on the rise after collecting four hits. Stavisky is 8-for-12 over his last three games and batting .372 (29-for-78) against left-handers this season.

Marcus McBeth notched his organizational best 31st minor league save as starter Brad Zieglar had one of his more forgettable nights this season. The right-hander allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings for a no-decision. Since July 11, McBeth has either a win or save in his last 18 decisions.

The Hounds have now scored eight runs in three of their last four games. They have won 13 of their last 15 overall. In August, they and Frisco are the league's hottest teams at 19-9 on the month each.

Stockton lost to Visalia, 5-4

Steven Sharpe was anything but sharp as the Ports blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning behind their frequent closer. Sharpe allowed hits to six of the nine batters he faced, and gave up all three runs in the ninth for his first loss since May 27 while at Kane County. Entering the night, the right-hander had not been scored on since June 29, a span of 18 consecutive innings.

Gregorio Petit hit two home runs to account for all of the scoring. Petit's eight homers this season are one shy of his career-high nine set last year at Kane County. After spending his time at second base in the first half, he has been used almost exclusively at short in the second half, where he's wrapping up his best month of the year with a .303 average in 29 games in August. The 5'10, 160-lb Petit is batting .256 overall this season in 132 games.

Luis Perez, meanwhile, extended his hitting streak to 17 games and is batting .453 in August as a result. His .323 overall average is the best on the team for any player who has spent all of 2006 with the Ports. Should Perez hit safely in his next game, he'll pass teammates Nick Blasi and Eduardo Cornejo for the longest Stockton hit streak of the year.

Kane County lost to Quad Cities, 7-2

Joe Piekarz saw his three-game winning streak snapped behind four Cougar errors. The left-hander gave up four runs, only one of which was earned, on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. Piekarz did, however, strike out seven – his most for one game since his season-high 11 back on June 23. He has now allowed 13 runs on 26 hits over his last three starts.

The offense managed just five hits as Raul Padron continues to have his best month of the season with a .306 average through 25 games in August. Padron entered the month batting just .221.

Vancouver lost to Salem-Keizer, 5-1

The Canadians dropped their fifth straight to the Volcanoes and their sixth in a row overall. They out-hit the Giants affiliate, who matched their hit total with equal the amount of runs scored. Andrew Bailey dropped his fourth decision in a row, allowing four runs (one earned) in six innings. Despite a 1-5 record, the right-hander has a 1.95 average against and 2.21 ERA in 53 innings.

Leadoff man Larry Cobb picked up his third two-hit night in the past week to raise his average to .297 overall and .333 in August. Cobb has hit safely in eight of his last nine games. Jermaine Mitchell's league-best 22-game hitting streak came to an end with a 0-for-4 performance. He did reach base twice, however, and stole two bases. Over the course of his hit streak, Mitchell batted .373 with an OBP of .480.

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