Johnson rising, Pauley trends

Sterling Hitchcock hits a bump in the road. Ben Johnson is solid as a rock in Mobile. He has homered in three consecutive games. David Pauley is getting better and better, is a no-hitter next? The Wizards bullpen looked like it would hold a slim lead but ended up blowing it and taking another loss.

Portland lost 6-4

Sterling Hitchcock was scheduled to start Tuesday but missed the start. A groin injury he suffered during warm-ups put him on the shelf.

Tim Byrdak made his first start of the year in his place. Byrdak started ten games last year playing in the Independent League. He allowed two runs over four innings of work.

Mike Bynum walked the first two batters he faced before giving up a single to load the bases. The next batter hit a grand slam and Bynum was yanked, taking the loss, his fifth of the season.

Jon Knott homered again on Tuesday. He also extended his hitting streak to ten games. It is the second time this season Knott has had a hitting streak of ten games. He is 15-for-39 with six homers, three doubles and one triple over the stretch. He also has added 18 RBI's in that time frame with 11 runs scored.

Mobile won 7-3

A five run third was all the offense the BayBears needed. But it wasn't all they got. Six of their eleven hits went for extra bases.

Ben Johnson homered for the third consecutive game, a two run shot in the fifth. Johnson has homered in four of his last five games and now has eight on the year. He has driven in nine over his last five games and is firmly entrenched two behind team leader Josh Barfield with 26 RBI's.

Brian Whitaker was among the top hitters on the day. He went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored, not to mention a sac bunt. He was also excellent on the mound. Whit went seven innings, allowing three runs, one earned, on nine hits. Since getting promoted to Mobile, Whitaker has had unearned runs in four of his five starts. The only start he did not have an unearned run was when he threw 7.2 innings of shutout ball on the 15th of May.

Lake Elsinore won 1-0

The Storm earned their second 1-0 win of the season and they tied their season low in hits with three. Ironically, both events occurred against Inland Empire with the first instance coming in the opening game of the year.

David Pauley pitched six innings without surrendering a run to earn his third win of the season. Pauley has given up two runs over his last three outings spanning 18 innings. Every outing since his first has been better than the last one. Pauley started the year allowing seven runs, five earned. He has not allowed more than three earned runs since and as of five games ago he has not allowed more than two earned runs. Three games ago he started his current stretch of not allowing more than one run.

Joe Lima got thrown out in fourth inning trying to score from second base on a single by Luis Cruz. Lima seemingly beat the throw home but was wrung up.

Cruz extended his hitting streak to nine games in the process. He does, however, have four errors in his last four games with three coming in the last two.

Fort Wayne lost 9-5

The Wizards walked nine batters total with Sean Thompson walking five while giving up just three hits, but two left the yard.

Sazi Guthrie inherited two runners, both on via the walk, with no outs in the fifth. Guthrie promptly walked the next batter on five pitches to load the bases. Guthrie got the next batter to line out to third base, and then struck out the following batter. Guthrie then escaped disaster and earned Thompson a chance for a win when he induced a ground out.

Aaron Coonrod had to wiggle out of a jam created by Guthrie in the sixth, getting two outs with two on. One swing of the bat tied it up in the seventh with a homer by Ian Kinsler. Coonrod eventually took his fourth loss of the season versus no wins. A walk, wild pitch and a single scored the go ahead run. They tacked on another on Coonrod before adding two off Henri Perez in the eighth. Perez made his debut coming out of the bullpen. It was just the fourth relief appearance for Perez in five minor league seasons. He gave up a two run jack to Kinsler, who became the first Wizard opponent to hit two homers in one game, coming on consecutive at bats.

Coonrod, dominant through his first twelve appearances, has now given up runs in four straight outings and has taken the loss in a game in three straight trips to the mound. His 1.42 ERA through 12 games has ballooned to 6.00.

Notes:

Right-handed reliever Antonio Osuna began his own 30-day rehabilitation assignment yesterday with the Arizona Padres (rookie league). Osuna was placed on the 15-day DL with a right groin strain on May 12.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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