Cruz, Howard Power Portland Over Tucson

PORTLAND, OR-- The bats of Luis Cruz and Josh Howard came alive to lead Portland to a 9-7 victory over the Tucson Sidewinders at PGE Park Monday night. The Beavers' success was in part due to the sub-par performance of Tucson starter D. J. Carrasco, whose ERA of 2.41 was ranked third lowest in the PCL coming into Monday's game.

The first two innings were a back-and-forth battle. The Sidewinders took leads in both the first and second innings, but each time Portland answered back with runs of their own. After Tucson took a 2-1 lead in the second inning, Luis Cruz tied the game with a solo homerun off the cinder blocks in left field, his fourth of the year.

In the bottom of the third inning, with the score tied 3-3, Portland broke the game wide open. After just 2.2 innings, Carrasco was chased from the game by Beavers hitters who pushed Portland ahead to an 8-3 lead. Highlights of the Beavers five-run inning included a bases loaded double by Cruz to drive in two runs, and a two out, two-RBI single by Josh Howard. Cruz' double was roughly four feet short of being a grand slam and his second round tripper of the game.

After a solid offensive year for Mobile in 2006, Cruz has largely underperformed for Portland this year. With a banner night on Monday, going 3-5 with one homerun, two doubles and three RBI, Cruz showed his ability to cultivate his offensive potential.

"We always hope it's something that'll give him a boost... he has been kind of hit-or-miss with approaches" Beavers ,anager Rick Renteria said.

The large lead turned out to be necessary for Portland, as starter Tim Stauffer was less than stellar in his five innings of work, and as defensive woes continued to plague Portland's defense. Over the past four games, Portland has committed eight defensive errors.

"Fortunately guys were able to pick each other up and make it not an issue" Renteria said.

Tucson continued to chip away at Portland's lead over the last seven innings. In the fourth inning, second baseman Danny Richar brought the Sidewinders to within three runs of the Beavers when he belted a two-run blast to right field. Richar's bomb hit off the base of the Multnomah Athletic Club, which lies far beyond the right field fence. Few hitters have accomplished this feat.

Tucson continued to close the gap, scoring one unearned run off Royce Ring in the seventh inning when an error by second baseman Royce Huffman allowed Chris Carter to score from second base. The Beavers lead was reduced to one run in the eighth inning when pinch hitter Dee Brown doubled home Augie Ojeda, making the score 8-7.

The Beavers tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, extending their lead to 9-7. Closer Leo Rosales earned the save for Portland , his twelfth of the season, by sitting down three Sidewinders in order to end the ninth.

Game Notes:

- For the fifth time this season, Paul McAnulty played third base for Portland
- McAnulty had four walks on the night
- Portland's leadoff spot, comprised of Dowdy and Howard, was 3-for-5 with three RBI
- Howard entered the game in the second inning when Brett Dowdy was sat down after experiencing lower back pain
- Craig Stansberry is currently out of commission with a hand injury
- Both Tucson and Portland had their games shortened by rain on Sunday. While Tucson got into the eighth inning facing Colorado Spring, Portland only made it into the fifth inning with Las Vegas

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