Pitching wins them all!

Brian Sweeney pitched five innings of shutout ball and Tagg Bozied homered for the third time in two days. Brian Whitaker went eight innings for Mobile, his longest outing of the season. Jon Huber had another solid outing and earned his sixth win of the season. Every pitcher was outdone by Fort Wayne starter Clark Girardeau. Girardeau had a one hitter headed into the ninth inning.

Portland won 7-1

Brian Sweeney returned to the starting rotation after one brief middle relief appearance and he came out swinging. He earned his team leading sixth win of the season with a five inning performance where he did not surrender a run. He held the opposition to just two hits and struck out six while walking two. It was the second time in ten starts that Sweeney has thrown shutout ball. He has had seven quality outings to date, where he has allowed three runs or less in an outing.

Blaine Neal continues to make his bid for a Major League callup. Neal has pitched in the Majors before and a 17 inning streak without allowing an earned run is a sure way to get noticed. He has given up just eight hits over the stretch.

MadFriars.com spoke with Neal before the game in an exclusive interview to follow this week.

Tagg Bozied homered for the second day in a row and has three in a two day period. His three run blast also gives him seven RBI's over the two day span.

J.J. Furmaniak has committed errors in consecutive games for the third time in the last 11 games he has played in. He has seven over that 11 game span. The error on Saturday cost the team a run and a shutout. He has also hit a funk at the plate. He is in the midst of a 4-for-30 slump and his average has dropped from .271 to .238.

Joe Gerber hit his first Triple-A homer. Gerber had 14 last year between two different leagues. He hit 11 in Lake Elsinore and three with Mobile, his first season in the Padres minor league system.

Mobile won 7-3

The BayBears are now firmly entrenched alone in second place in the Southern League's West Division, two games behind first place West Tenn with 14 to play in the "First Half" title chase.

After pitching in just four innings last time out, Brian Whitaker went eight on Saturday. It was his longest outing of the year and matched the longest by any Mobile pitcher as Duncan McAdoo also had an eight inning outing earlier this year and Tim Stauffer has done it twice since joining the BayBears. Whitaker gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits and two walks. He also struck out five. It was the second time in seven starts that Whitaker has given up two runs or less but the fourth time he has given up two earned runs or less in an outing.

BayBears starting pitchers have thrown 23 innings over the last three nights and allowed only two earned runs.

Josh Barfield homered for the second time this week, his seventh of the year. He also scored three runs on the day. Barfield has RBI's in five of his last six games and in four in a row. He has totaled nine runs driven in over that span and leads the team with 37. He also has a four game hitting streak where he is 6-for-17 with five runs scored. With Todd Donovan out, Barfield is tied with Nick Trzesniak for the best average on the team for players who have 60 at bats or more.

Speaking of Trzesniak, he has a ten game hitting streak and RBI's in his last four.

Rene Miniel made his Mobile debut and walked the only two batters he faced. RD Spiehs relieved him and hit the second batter he faced to load the bases before getting out of the inning with one inherited runner scoring.

Ronnie Merrill left the ballgame two innings after being hit on the leg by a pitch. It did not look serious as he was taken out as a precautionary measure.

Lake Elsinore won 9-3

Jon Huber pitched well again on Saturday. One of the three runs he allowed was off the bat of current Major Leaguer Tim Salmon, playing in a rehab game for Rancho Cucamonga. He went seven innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks. He leads the Storm with six wins, double what the next closest player has.

Huber did have two errors in one inning that cost him a run.

Dale Thayer continues to dominate the end of games. While it was not a save opportunity, Thayer closed the door with another scoreless inning. He has given up just one run in his last 20 outings. Thayer had allowed six earned runs in his first appearance of the season. His WHIP is down to 0.92 and he has not walked a batter in seven straight outings.

Marcus Nettles has a five game hitting streak where he is 7-for-19. He is batting leadoff and it could not come at a better time. Nettles has taken the place of promoted Kennard Jones and over the last 15 games has raised his average from .221 to .266. He is hitting .333 over that stretch, going 19-57.

Fort Wayne won 6-4

Clark Girardeau made a bid to pitch the first nine inning complete game of the year in the Padres minor league system, but fell two outs short. Girardeau had allowed just one hit, the first batter of the game, heading into the ninth inning before surrendering three, including two homers. Leo Rosales closed the game out for his second save.

Girardeau had more players reach on errors through the first eight innings of the game as he walked none and struck out seven on the night. It was the longest outing of the year for Girardeau and also he became the first pitcher in the organization to pitch into the ninth inning. His previous long was six innings.

George Kottaras has another big game and now has five hits in his last two games. He added two RBI's, driving in two runs in the bottom of the eighth that proved to be the game winner.

Fernando Valenzuela Jr. had a big day. Valenzuela had three hits, two doubles, and scored three of the six Wizard runs. The only blemish is the double play he grounded into, his third in four games.

Ryan Dempster pitched in a rehab assignment for Lansing and the Wizards scored one run off the Cub starter coming on a ground out from Chris Miller, a former Cub farmhand. Miller has an RBI in each of his three games played for the Wizards.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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