Down on the Farm: Pennant Fever

InsidethePark.com's nightly coverage of the Minor League pennant races continue with a full schedule on Thursday.

Anderson and Fulmer Hold off Cats
TACOMA-The Rainiers defeated the Sacramento Rivercats 7-2, using a six-run fifth to prolong their dim playoff hopes for one more day.

Southpaw Craig Anderson (4-8, 5.65) earned the victory by going 5.1 innings and allowing just two earned runs on six hits. Anderson was relieved by recent call-up T.A. Fulmer, who proceeded to throw 3.2 shutout innings, allowing just one hit.

Second baseman Mickey Lopez (.285, 41RBI) hit his 10th home run with one out in the first to give the Rainiers the early 1-0 lead, but the heavy-hitting Rivercats sporting the league's MVP in Dan Johnson, scored two in the third to take the lead.

After 3B Tony Zuniga (.235) singled to lead off the fifth, RF Elpidio Guzman (.265, 5HR, 36RBI, 23SB) doubled Zuniga to third. After SS Mike Collins (.172) walked to load the bases, Jeremy Reed (.302, 4HR, 34RBI, 13SB) singled to score Zuniga. Sacramento right fielder Mike Edwards misplayed the hop and Guzman scored from second to give the Rainiers the lead at 3-2.

Following Mickey Lopez, who was hit by a pitch, A.J. Zapp (.295, 29HR, 101RBI) belted his 29th home run of the year to cap the six-run inning and handing Anderson a five-run lead at 7-2.

Adding to Zapp's more than solid season is a dubious honor. When Zapp struck out swinging in the fourth, he broke the modern day single-season Pacific Coast League record for strikeouts, now sitting at 176. The previous record of 175 was held by three individuals, Rob Deer, Robert Stratton, and Gorman Thomas.

Zapp also became the first Rainier to reach 100 RBI since Dan Rohrmeier in 1998.

Tacoma's playoff hopes are almost officially over, with Portland defeating Fresno 10-4 in 16 innings on Thursday night. The win cuts the Beavers magic number to one. One more win for Portland or a loss by Tacoma and the Beavers will be Northern Division champs.


Missions Beat Express, Gain Ground
San Antonio is hot on the trail of first-half champion Round Rock, and sit just one game back after a solid all-around 8-1 victory on Thursday night at Wolff Municipal Stadium.

Right-hander Rich Dorman started and went five innings and allowed one run on two hits. The 25-year-old struck out three and walked three while earning his eighth win as a Mission.

The bats went to work early as San Antonio jumped all over Round Rock starter Tim McClaskey for four runs on five hits, including Hunter Brown's 12th home run of the season.
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Shin-soo Choo (.308, 14HR, 80RBI, 39SB) led off the third with his 14th home run and two batters later outfielder T.J. Bohn (.262, 7HR, 29RBI) hit his seventh long ball since being promoted to Double-A. First baseman John Lindsey hit his 19th of the year in the fifth, as San Antonio pulled away.

Left-hander Chris Key (5-3, 4.05) pitched the final four innings for his first save of the year, allowing one hit and striking out a pair.


Empire Look to Wildcard After 12-4 Loss
The division run is over for the 66ers, as the Jethawks blow by Inland Empire 12-4 Thursday night.

Left-hander Bobby Livingston (12-6, 3.57) allowed seven earned runs over five innings, striking out three and allowing one walk. The Jethawks jumped on Livingston early, scoring one in the first and five in the third. Greg Wear didn't fare much better getting roughed up for four runs on six hits over two innings.

Matt Rogelstad (.250, 2HR, 41RBI), Michael Garciaparra (.213, 1HR, 24RBI) and Juan Gonzalez (.296, 2HR, 57RBI, 26SB) each went 2-for-4, and Wladimir Balentien (.273, 1HR, 3RBI) hit his first California League home run to account for the offense.

Inland Empire will be the wildcard team in the first round of the California League playoffs, giving them a chance to defend their 2003 league title.


Sox Lose Sixth Straight, Lose More Ground
The struggles continue for the AquaSox as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes erupted for 10 runs on 13 hits to defeat Everett 10-2.

Right-hander Phil Cullen started and went two innings, giving up four runs on four hits. Cullen, 24, walked two and struck out one.

The Everett bats were silent most of the night, managing just two extra-base hits for the night.

Brandon Green (.270, 6HR, 50RBI) and Trevor Heid (.213, 13RBI) drove in the only runs for the Sox who collected just seven hits versus Salem-Keizer pitching.

Shawn Nottingham (9-4, 3.15) tossed two scoreless inning in relief, allowing just one hit while striking out two.

Everett needs to sweep the three-game set at Salem-Keizer this weekend and hope Eugene wins at least three of the four versus division-leading Vancouver in order to win the division and head to the Northwest League playoffs.

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