Howard heroics; McBryde mastery

A clean sweep in the San Diego Padres system. Kevin Howard's provides the heroics in Portland with a ninth inning single. Evan Scribner is instrumental to victory with a tough save. Jeremy McBryde returns and is lights out. Angel Mercado starts the scoring run and ends it, propelling Fort Wayne to 8-0.

Portland (5-4) won 4-3 over Fresno (Giants)

Kevin Howard's third hit of the evening scored Kyle Blanks in the bottom of the ninth to provide the walk-off win. Howard drove in two runs on the day and added a walk to reach base four times. Howard also added his first stolen base of the season. The infielder hit .395 with 14 hits in 34 at-bats during minor league spring training and has been on base safely in each of his eight games to begin 2009. He saw action with two different PCL teams last year, drawing more walks than strikeouts.

Blanks was on base three times with a single, walk, and his ninth inning one-out double. The first baseman scored twice and added an RBI. Blanks has secured three straight multi-hit games and has reached base safely in eight straight. He has drawn a walk in seven consecutive and has been on base 21 times through nine games to begin his Triple-A career.

Wade LeBlanc rebounded from a poor first start by making into the seventh before getting pulled. He worked 6.1 innings, yielding two runs on two hits and a walk while striking out seven in a no-decision. Both hits went for extras during his 88-pitch evening with one leaving the yard. The southpaw has surrendered a homer in 10 straight games dating back to last season with his time in San Diego and Portland. Fourteen balls have left the park over that time.

San Antonio (4-4) won 5-4 over NW Arkansas (Royals)

Cesar Carrillo earned his first win of the season, going six strong. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits and three walks while fanning three in a 78-pitch effort, recording 12 of his outs on the ground. Carrillo has walked three batters in each of his first two Texas League starts. He walked three or more six times in 14 starts a season ago.

Evan Scribner pulled off the rare save that spanned more than an inning. The right-hander came on with two on and one out in the eighth and proceeded to strand both inherited runners. He then retired the side in order in the ninth to pick up his second save. Scribner came in only once last season with men on base in Lake Elsinore, stranding the two runners he inherited. After walking three during his 20-appearance tour with the Storm, Scribner has already issued four walks in 4.2 innings with the Missions.

Mike Baxter pounded out three hits in give at-bats, including a double. He singled in the seventh and came around to score the eventual winning run. Baxter scored twice on the day and added his team leading 11th RBI – good for second most in the Texas League. The outfielder has four multi-hit games over a five-game hitting streak that has seen Baxter go 11-for-22 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBI. He has knocked in a run in six of his eight games played.

Lake Elsinore (3-6) won 3-1 over Bakersfield (Rangers)

Jeremy McBryde came off the disabled list – where he had missed a start with back spasms – and tossed five innings of one-run ball. The right-hander yielded just two hits and a walk while striking out nine. Both hits went for extra bases and one left the yard. McBryde twice struck out nine or more last year in Fort Wayne. With the formerly named Wizards, he went 8-9 with a 4.28 ERA. He allowed two runs or less in 12 of his 26 starts.

Bryan Oland earned his first save of the year, striking out the side around a single. Seven of the nine outs he has recorded this year have come by way of the strikeout. Oland whiffed 11.9 batters per nine innings last season. The right-hander surrendered runs in seven of his 44 appearances a season ago in Fort Wayne, never allowing more than a single run in any contest.

Justin Baum – one of the hottest hitters during minor league spring with 12 hits in 27 at-bats for a .444 average – notched three hits on Friday. The infielder had entered the game with one hit in his first 14 California League at-bats. He also added a sacrifice fly in the first inning while doubling in a run in the third. Baum hit .264 across 119 games for Fort Wayne last season, leading the team in RBI with 70.

Fort Wayne (8-0) won 8-3 over Dayton (Reds)

Down 3-1 in the seventh, the TinCaps scored seven times to extend their franchise best eight-game winning streak to open the season. Their run totals have matched their win tally in each of the last three games. Simon Castro allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks while fanning three over 4.1 innings – ending a scoreless streak that reached 23.2 innings. Castro has walked seven batters this season, accounting for 36.8 percent of the teams total for the season.

The bullpen remains perfect on the season, extending their scoreless streak to 35.1 innings. Eric Gonzalez picked up the win, pitching two perfect innings while striking out three. In six innings of work this season, the right-hander has worked to the minimum. Gonzalez went 2-0 with two saves last season for the AZL Padres. In 22.2 innings, the Canary Islands native struck out 34. He allowed just one leadoff man of an inning to reach base all of last year.

Angel Mercado started the scoring barrage with a solo homer to open the seventh and plated the final run when he singled in Adam Zornes. The hits were his tally for the day, as he went 0-for-2 the rest of the day. Mercado, who is 4-for-12 on the year, hit .235 with Fort Wayne a season ago, collecting 11 extra base hits and 21 RBI in 42 games. He was sent down to Eugene where he hit .276 across 58 games, belting seven homers.

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