Steve Watkins no-hit bid; Billy Hogan excels

Steve Watkins had a no-hitter broken up by a fluke play in the eighth inning. Watkins outdueled Cubs phenom Angel Guzman. One man took the Portland Beavers pitching to town. Fort Wayne got solid pitching from an unexpected source and the usual solid outings from Howie Pence and Leo Rosales. The bats are alive and well in Eugene as Alfredo Fernandez got his first win of the year.

Portland lost 11-3

Edmonton's Ron Calloway knocked in seven runs against various members of the Portland staff. Calloway brought in two off Chris Oxspring with a homer, doubled off Brandon Puffer with the bases juiced, and doubled in two more off Lou Pote.

Oxspring went six plus, leaving the game with a 3-2 lead and two on. Those two runs scored when Puffer allowed the double and Oxspring's line read four runs earned on four hits and five walks while striking out eight. Puffer, as close to perfect as a reliever can get for Portland, has now allowed eight runs in his last 2.1 innings.

Jake Gautreau may have gotten off to an 0-for-2 start to his Portland career but he has hit in four straight, 7-for-16.

Jon Knott has drawn a walk in six straight games and has an eight game hitting streak after homering in one of three at bats on Monday. He is 13-for-28 over the streak.

Mobile won 5-0

Steve Watkins went toe-to-toe with Angel Guzman, one of the top prospects in the Cubs organization and came out on top. Watkins had a no-hitter going into the eighth before allowing a leadoff single to open the inning. It was the only hit he allowed as he struck out nine and walked one in his eight innings of work.

What was so heartbreaking about the base hit was how it happened. A routine hopper bounced down the line towards Rico Washington at third. Before he could field it, the ball bounced off the corner of the third base bag for a single.

"If not for a fluky infield single in the eighth when a routine ground ball bounced off the corner of the third base bag, Watkins would have had a good chance at a no-hitter," BayBears announcer Tom Nichols said.

It was the second time in a row that he went eight innings, occurring in Portland, and he has struck out 20 in the same time span.

"His fastball was registering at 89-90 was a lot of movement," said Nichols. "He changed speeds effectively and got three swinging strikeouts on 3-2 pitches in the first two innings. He finished with nine strikeouts in what would rank as one of the two or three best pitching performances in the BayBears eight year history."

As for Guzman, he gave up two hits and one run in six innings of work.

"Guzman looked outstanding for West Tenn on Monday and appeared to be on his way to fulfilling the bright future that many are still predicting for him after shoulder surgery," Nichols continued. "But quite honestly, he looked like the second best starting pitcher on the field at Hank Aaron Stadium."

Josh Barfield hit a two out homer in the fourth inning off Guzman and added a two run single in the eighth. He had entered the game 1-for-17 over his last four games. Barfield went 2-for-4 on Monday.

Fort Wayne won 4-3

Brett Bonvechio went 4-for-5 with a double, RBI and came around to score twice on Juan Ciriaco base hits. It was the first four hit night of Bonvechio's Padre career.

David Mead made a sport start and went 4.2 innings, his longest outing of the year after pitching solely in relief. Mead allowed two hits, walked three and hit three batters. Only one of those hit batsmen came back to haunt him as he loaded the bases and hit a batter in the fifth to score one run, the only run to score against him.

Sazi Guthrie has only had two appearances all year where he did not allow a baserunner. He has made it to the hill 24 times and has surrendered at least a run in 16 of them. He did get out of a two out bases loaded jam on Monday, but allowed two runs of his own the next inning.

Howie Pence continues to fly under the veil of perfection. Pence has now appeared in twelve straight games to open his Fort Wayne career without allowing an earned run.

While Pence has been good, Leo Rosales has been better. The team's closer of choice notched his eighth save of the year on Monday and put down the side in order again. It is the tenth time this year he has accomplished the feat. He has not walked a batter in 11 straight games and has only four on the year in 22 appearances.

Eugene won 13-8

Cheated out of a couple wins already this year, Alfredo Fernandez got his due on Monday. Although it wasn't his finest game, the offense backed him for once. Fernandez entered the game without allowing more than two runs in any of his three previous starts (one with Portland). Yet, he had no victories to speak of. He went six innings on Monday and gave up four runs on eight hits. It was the hardest he had been hit all year as his previous high for hits allowed was four.

Trino Aguilar got his first two hits of the year. He has been on a roster since June 3. He did, however, commit two errors, also his first two of the year.

Brett Burnham had his first homer of the year, a three run blast in the sixth. It was his only hit of the day, but he did walk twice.

Billy Hogan had his first multi-hit game of the year and drove in four runs, driving in all his runs in three consecutive innings. He drove in one with a sac fly in the fourth, two on a single in the fifth and the last one came on single to center in the sixth.

Matt Thayer has barely seen the field, used less than any other position player on the roster. Oddly enough in the two games he has played he has knocked in at least a run and on Monday he drove in three. Two came in on a single and another on a sac fly.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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