Big Ben strikes again

The last time Ben Johnson was a Beaver, he left town on the heels of a Grand Slam August 28th against Las Vegas. Tonight, he picked up where he left off with a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth on a full count with two outs.

The blast capped a huge game by Ben Johnson in his first game after being sent down from the Padres. He notched a single and a double before going deep with a shot that literally knocked the lights out on the Miller Lite sign used to show pitching speed.

"I woke up at 6:30 this morning in San Diego and I felt tired toward the end of the game. I'm running on fumes right now," Johnson admitted after the game. "But I was seeing the ball well and was up on the hit counts early. Jon Knott gave me the scouting report on the pitcher earlier. It was fast balls away and splitters. That's what the last pitch was."

Asked if he found minor league pitchers easier to hit, he laughed and said, "I don't know, I only saw three."

Justin Leone broke from his recent 18-game lapse in homers with a pair tonight. These followed a blown opportunity in the first with bases loaded and two outs when Leone struck out on three tentative check swings that left him looking indecisive and slow. Clearly frustrated with himself, he didn't let his next opportunities slip by.

"It's upsetting to have such a bad at bat and that's inspiring in itself," Leone said. "I do allow myself to have bad at bats without coming down hard on myself, but I wasn't focussed when I stepped in the box the first time. If you're not prepared, you don't give yourself the best opportunity. Once you step in the box, there's got to be nothing else going on in your head beside hitting the ball."

Leone had no multi-homer games in 2005 but chalked up three in 2004 (4/20/04 vs. LVG, 5/21/04 vs. OMA and 6/22/04 vs. FRN). Of late, his average has fallen from its previously stratospheric heights of .500 to orbit around .311.

Pitcher Jack Cassel hit a for a single and an RBI double and retired the Express in order in the second, third, fifth and sixth but pitched somewhat unevenly, giving up all four Round Rock runs. He was subjected to poor officiating in the fourth when a runner stealing home with two outs clearly left the base line to avoid the tag by Jason Hill but nevertheless was called safe. Manager Craig Colbert went through the motions in unsuccessfully arguing the call.

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