Lineup changes produce results

Pitching and Portland are two words that do not go together. Sean Thompson began the night with a smile but ended it with frustration. Tim Brown responded to being dropped in the order. Fabian Jimenez provided a boost for Fort Wayne in the nightcap and Mike Baxter made an appearance as the leadoff hitter with positive results.

Portland lost 11-6 to Sacramento (A's)

The woes continue for the Portland pitching staff. Entering the game with a league ERA of 5.82, they surrendered 11 runs.

Ryan Meaux felt the brunt of it after stranding the bases loaded in relief of Eric Junge in the first inning. Over the next 3.2 frames, Meaux would be charged with seven runs, all earned, on five hits, three walks and a wild pitch. Fourteen runs have crossed the plate in his last 6.1 innings of work as the lefty has given up runs in eight of his 11 relief appearances.

Jon Knott got off the schnide with a grand slam homer in the seventh inning to make the score more respectable, Homering in successive games played for the first time since May 29-30 of last year. Knott went 2-for-5, adding a double, to raise his season average to .190. It was his third multi-hit game of the year through 20 contests. He entered the game hitting just .188 with runners in scoring position.

Eric Valent went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored, his first three-hit night of the season and fourth multi-hit game. Valent now has eight of his 15 hits batting ninth in the order and is swatting .750 from that spot in the lineup. He is batting .070 combined when he takes his cuts anywhere else in the lineup.

Mobile lost 8-4 to Carolina (Marlins)

Sean Thompson was chugging along through the first five frames. He had surrendered one run on four hits, including his first homer against this year – but in the sixth, he and everyone else imploded. Thompson had trouble finding the plate, bouncing several balls as he walked the first two batters in the inning. He was pulled and Roger Deago gave up four straight hits. Thompson ended his night with three runs against; he has walked four batters over his last four starts.

Paul Abraham relieved Deago with one out and walked the first batter to load the bases before yielding a double and single – and it could have been worse but Drew Macias tossed out a runner at home plate. Abraham had gone five innings without allowing a run and has now given up runs in four of his 11 appearances this year. He has been a different pitcher at home versus the road, holding batters to a .179 average against at the Hank versus a .438 mark on the road.

Luis Cruz has continued to struggle against Southern League pitching, even with his 1-for-4 night with two RBI's. He is, however, showing the pop that was missing last year. He notched his seventh double of the season and 53 percent of his hits have gone for extra bases. Cruz is batting .192 through 21 games and has slumped even worse against righties, to the tune of .158.

Lake Elsinore lost 4-3 to Inland Empire (Mariners)

Mike Ekstrom gave up just four hits but three runs, two earned, crossed the dish in his six innings of work. Over six starts, he has given up two earned runs or less per. The right-hander has not given up a first inning run this year. Of his 33 hits allowed, five have gone for extra bases and none have left the yard.

Dropped to seventh in the order for the first time this year, Tim Brown went 2-for-3 with a walk, double, homer and two runs scored. Seven of his last nine hits have gone for extra bases after two of his first ten went for extra bags. This was his first multi-hit game at the Diamond; he has three such games on the road.

After allowing two earned runs over his first nine outings, Ryan Klatt has given up six in his last four, over a span of three innings. He took the loss on Tuesday, his second in five days. Klatt has suffered at home where the opposition is hitting .371 off him while on the road he has limited hitters to a .125 average.

Fort Wayne lost game one 2-0 to Beloit (Twins), won game two 7-0

Grant Varnell went the distance in the shortened game, tossing six innings of two run ball while striking out seven. Varnell gave up eight hits with a two-run blast the one that bit him. His seven strikeouts established a new career-high. He had previously reached six in a game on three occasions since joining the organization last year. Varnell has given up two earned runs or less in all of his starts.

Mike Baxter opened the first game by going 0-for-3 with a K. That dropped his season average to .198. All of his at bats had come while batting third in the order. Astute as he is, manager Randy Ready moved him to the top of the lineup as the leadoff hitter and it paid immediate dividends. The outfielder went 2-for-4 with a walk and scored three runs as the catalyst up top. It was his third multi-hit game of the year.

Fabian Jimenez picked up his first win of the year, tossing five innings of shutout ball. He gave up three hits and walked two with four strikeouts. The lefty has been up and down this year. Ten of his 11 earned runs have come over two starts = with ten walks surrendered in those games. In his other three starts, Jimenez has given up just one run on 11 hits and six walks in 16 innings.

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