Knott madness continues; AZL Padres clinch

Jon Knott has knocked in enough runs this month to have a lock on player of the month. Stephen Smitherman has been swinging the stick well of late. Manny Ayala continues to show he belongs. Nate Culp proves the promotion was right. Brooks Dunn can't catch a break. The AZL Padres clinch a first half win and a Championship Game berth.

Portland won 6-5 over Oklahoma (Rangers)

Paul McAnulty pounded out two more hits, added his 14 dinger of the year and drove in two. He has driven in five runs over his last three games and has an RBI in five of his last six. McAnulty is seventh in the league in hitting. He has 34 multi-hit games in 86 contests with Portland. Since the start of June he has reached base 98 times in 52 games.

Jon Knott continues to rain misery down on the opposition, connecting for his 24th homer of the year and added his 20th double along with three more RBI's. In his last 23 games, Knott has collected 19 extra base hits and 32 RBI's. Forty-nine of his 95 hits have gone for extra bases and his 88 RBI's lead the Pacific Coast League, as does his homer total. He is six off the extra base pace and ranks third in the league in slugging percentage, just ahead of McAnulty.

Mobile lost 6-3 to Mississippi (Braves)

Stephen Smitherman cracked two doubles in four at bats and added all three Mobile RBI's along the way. Over a six-game hitting streak, Smitherman is 10-for-24 with three doubles, three homers and 11 RBI's. Since July 1, Smitherman has hit .317 with 17 RBI's. Twenty-two of his 40 hits have gone for extra bases. He has upped his average from .116 on June 3 to .241 today.

Sean Thompson dropped his eight game of the year after surrendering four runs, three earned, on seven hits and a walk over five innings. It is the first time since June 13 that he has given up more than two earned runs – a span of six starts without – and just the second time in seven starts he has given up more than four hits. Thompson was 1-for-1 at the plate and is 6-for-24 on the year.

Lake Elsinore won 7-2 over Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)

Manny Ayala threw strikes over six frames, giving up two runs on six hits while striking out five and not walking a batter to move to 3-2 on the season with the Storm. Ayala, who allowed seven runs his last time out, has given up two runs or less in four of his five starts and over 26.1 innings as a starter has yielded just two walks. He has won his last three decisions over a four game span.

Matt Hagen went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI's. Over his last 15 games he has knocked in nine runs and is hitting .243 to raise his average from .164 to .182. Hagen, who has played six different positions on the diamond for the Storm, was behind the plate and threw out the only runner attempting to steal. It is the second runner he has nabbed in nine attempts this year.

Fort Wayne won 5-1 over Clinton (Rangers)

Nate Culp made his debut with Fort Wayne with no piggyback to take his place and made it through a season-high six innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits while striking out two. The right-hander had not gone more than four innings in six appearances with Eugene. He began the year without allowing an earned run over his first 12 innings with the Emeralds. The win was his first as a professional.

Michael Campbell ignited the offense with a perfect night. He was 3-for-3 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. He was also hit by a pitch. Three of his four hits in Fort Wayne have been doubles; none of his 11 hits in Arizona went for a double although he did homer in his final game in Peoria. He is 15-fpr-37 over two leagues playing as the designated hitter in Fort Wayne and centerfield and left in Peoria.

Eugene lost 6-2 to Everett (Mariners)

Kody Valverde notched two RBI's with a single, his only hit in five at bats and one of just four on the night for the Ems. The catcher, who suited up as the designated hitter, has knocked in a run in each of the last five games with seven over that span. He is hitting .250 with runners in scoring position but has just four hits in 31 at bats with the bases empty.

Brooks Dunn pitched blanks over four innings and left the game with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. All three would be charged to Dunn but just one was earned. He gave up five hits and walked one in taking his Northwest League leading fifth loss of the season. Over his last six outings, spanning 20.1 innings, Dunn has been on the hook for just three earned runs. During that same stretch, seven unearned runs have crossed the dish on the lefty.

Justin Mattison pitched to the minimum despite walking one in his inning of work thanks to a pickoff. Mattison hasn't allowed a hit in eight of his 14 outings but has walked a batter in eight different games. While his average against is .212, his on base percentage is .359. Nine of 13 leadoff hitters have reached base but he has given up just three hits in 23 at bats with runners in scoring position.

AZL Padres win the first half with 14-3 win over AZL A's

The Arizona Rookie League Padres clinched a berth in the Championship Game and will play the second half winner at the conclusion of the 56-game season. They are the only team to clinch a playoff berth among the six in the Padres' system. The team boasts the top hit streak in the league and the top two on base streaks with Cedric Hunter's still current at 27 games. They also have the top two hitters in the league, have three of the top five RBI guys, lead the league in batting at .304, are third in pitching with a 4.34 ERA, have the top two players in hits and on base percentage, and have drawn twenty more walks than the closest competitor. Ironically, the tied for the fewest saves with four.

While Rayner Contreras added a homer and four more RBI's to give him seven over the last two games, Cedric Hunter continues to set the tone regardless of where he is in the order. The outfielder pumped out two hits in five at bats and added a sacrifice fly, contributing to his three RBI's. Hunter has been on base in 27 straight games. In his last 20 games he is hitting .363 and has been on base 45 times. Hunter is batting over .400 when he bats first or third in the order.

Jeremy Hunt went 3-for-3 and was hit by a pitch on Wednesday. The first baseman leads the league in hitting at .380 after his perfect night. He scored two runs and added a double and an RBI. He has 11 multi-hit games in 24 contests and is 16-for-33 with the bases empty while he has hit "just" .322 with runners on base. Hunt is first in the league in on base percentage, second in hits, third in runs scored and fifth in slugging percentage.

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