Oakland A's MLN: Cunningham Perfect In Return

It was a successful night for four of the five Oakland A's affiliates in action on Tuesday night. In this edition of Oakland A's Minor League Notebook, we take a look at the action around the A's system for August 18th.

Cunningham Leads Homer-Happy River Cats' Offense

Aaron Cunningham went 4-4 with two doubles and one of Sacramento's four homeruns in his return to Triple-A after a stint in the big leagues. The River Cats built a big lead and then survived some shaky relief work late in the game to earn an 11-9 win over Nashville.

If Cunningham feels like he has something to prove to the A's after being sent down to Triple-A on Monday, he made a loud statement Tuesday with a big night against the Sounds. The left-fielder reached base all five times he was at the plate and he drove-in two runs. He raised his Triple-A average to .311. He has 10 homeruns and 44 RBIs in 66 games for Sacramento this season.

Cunningham had plenty of support from his teammates on Tuesday. Brett Wallace, Jeff Baisley and Anthony Recker also went deep. It was the third straight game in which Wallace has homered, giving him five in 24 games with Sacramento and 16 in 118 total games this season. Baisley had three hits and Recker added two.

Baisley has a four-game hitting streak, during which he is 9-20 with two homers and six RBIs. Recker has a six-game hitting streak and he is batting .378 with two homers over his last 10 games. After a slow start to the season with Sacramento, Recker has picked up the pace in July and August. He had an 832 OPS in July and he has a 1121 OPS in August. Since the All-Star break, he is batting .302 with an 874 OPS.

Adrian Cardenas, playing shortstop, collected three hits in the contest. It was the third three-hit game for the infielder in his last five starts and he has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games, during which time he has a .417 average.

Jerome Williams earned the win for Sacramento, throwing 7.1 innings. He had allowed only two runs going into the eighth inning, but allowed three more runs to score in that eighth inning. He struck-out four. Henry Rodriguez and Sam Demel made the end of the game interesting. The two combined to allowed four runs on four hits and three walks in the ninth inning. Rodriguez retired only one batter of the four he faced.

Just like in Oakland, where the Hairston brothers are currently battling each other in the A's-Yankees series, the River Cats and Sounds had a brotherly rivalry going on Tuesday night as Eric Patterson and Corey Patterson squared off. Eric went 1-5 with an RBI as the River Cats' second baseman, while Corey went 3-5 with a double, a triple and three RBIs as the Sounds' centerfielder.

The River Cats' magic number to clinch the division is now at 10 games.

Desme, Ports Walk-Off Winners

Stockton out-lasted Modesto in a well-pitched game on Tuesday night at Banner Island Ballpark, with the Ports prevailing over their rivals, 2-1, in 11 innings.

Most of the game was a battle between the pitching staffs. Modesto used five pitchers to get through 10.1 innings, while the Ports needed only three hurlers to get through 11 frames. Pedro Figueroa was outstanding in his start for Stockton, allowing only a run on six hits and four walks in 7.1 innings. He struck-out four and lowered his Cal League ERA to 3.91, but was stuck with the no-decision.

Jason Ray threw 1.2 scoreless innings to send the game into extra-innings. He struck-out two and retired all five men he faced. Ray has a 2.08 ERA in 21.2 innings for Stockton this season and a 2.17 ERA overall. He missed much of the last two seasons with injuries.

Derrick Gordon earned the win with two strong innings of work. He allowed only two hits and he struck-out three. Gordon has whiffed 81 batters in 76.2 innings this season and Cal League batters are hitting only .213 against him.

The Stockton offense was quiet for most of the night, as the Ports would manage only nine singles. However, it was just enough for the win. Toddric Johnson, who also had two hits, began the decisive 11th inning with a walk. Frank Martinez then singled Johnson to third to set-up the game-winning rally. After Steve Kleen was walked intentionally and Yusuf Carter struck-out, Grant Desme won the game with a blast into left-field for a game-winning single. It was Desme's 45th RBI in 51 games with Stockton. He is batting .291 with 16 homers and a 1015 OPS with the Ports and .281 with 27 homers and a 905 OPS overall.

Stockton is six back of the first-place San Jose Giants in the Cal League's North Division.

Kane County Stung By Bees

The struggling Kane County Cougars suffered their worst loss of the season on Tuesday night, falling to the Burlington Bees on the road by a score of 14-1. The Cougars committed two errors, had one passed ball, uncorked five wild pitches and allowed 17 hits and five walks in the loss.

Mathieu LeBlanc Poirier had his worst outing of the season. He allowed eight runs on seven hits and two walks in only 3.1 innings. LeBlanc Poirier also threw the five wild pitches. Scott Deal allowed four runs in 2.1 innings and Matt Fitts gave up two runs in an inning of work to account for all of Burlington's scoring. Josue Selenes was the only Cougars' pitcher not to be scored upon.

The Cougars' offense wasn't much better. Kane County collected eight hits and three walks, but managed only one run. Stephen Parker had two hits, including his fifth homer of the year, and Michael Spina collected a double in the game. Parker has seven hits in 13 at-bats over his last three games. Franklin Hernandez left the game early after being hit by a pitch.

Vancouver Out-Pitches Tri-City

Julio Ramos led a trio of outstanding pitching performances for the Vancouver Canadians, as the C's earned a 2-1 win over Tri-City on Tuesday.

The left-handed Ramos allowed only four hits and a run in seven innings of work. He struck-out three and walked one. Ramos lowered his ERA to 2.63 on the season and evened his record at 5-5. The control artist has walked only 17 batters in 65 innings this season. He has been red-hot in August, going 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA and a 26:4 K:BB ratio in 28 innings.

Ramos earned the win thanks in part to some stellar relief work by the C's two-headed late-inning monster: Connor Hoehn and Paul Smyth. Hoehn pitched the eighth and allowed only a walk while striking out two. The hard-throwing righty now has 14 strike-outs in 12 innings and has allowed only six hits and two runs. Smyth continued his perfect season by notching his eighth save with a scoreless ninth inning. The side-arming righty has yet to allow a run in 28 innings. He has allowed only 11 hits and sports a 34:4 K:BB ratio.

The C's did all of their scoring in the fourth inning, when they took advantage of two Tri-City errors. No Canadians hitter had more than one hit and only Ryne Jernigan had an extra-base hit (a double).

Barton, Rookie A's Pound AZL Rangers

Daric Barton homered in his rehab assignment with the AZL A's and helped Oakland's Rookie League affiliate hammer the Rangers by a score of 13-8. Barton, recovering from a hamstring injury, reached base three times in the game and scored twice while driving in two runs.

Every A's batter had at least one hit in the contest. Jeremy Wells led the way with three hits in four at-bats, including a double and a triple. He also stole his 11th base, drove-in three and raised his average to .286. Chris Affinito had two hits to raise his season average to .320, tops on the team. Elvis Garcia added two hits and two RBIs, while Robin Rosario reached base four times with a double and three walks.

The A's bullpen struggled in the game, but starter Deivi Jimenez was outstanding. In four innings, he allowed only one run on two hits and a walk, while striking out seven.

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