Padres Minor League Notebook: 5-23-10

Lots of live reaction from a wild Fort Wayne win. Sean Gallagher drops to 0-2. Simon Castro is superb again and Alexis Lara handles four scoreless. Cole Figueroa extends his streak while Robert Lara contributes big.

Portland (18-25) lost 3-2 to Oklahoma City (Rangers)

Sean Gallagher suffered his second loss of the year, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks across four innings while fanning four. A loser of two straight, Gallagher has seen the opposition hit .375 off him with runners in scoring position and the leadoff hitter of an inning has a .364 average.

Sean Kazmar was the lone player to secure a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. The infielder, playing second base, also stole his third base out of the two-hole in the lineup. He did not figure into the scoring. Kazmar has three multi-hit games over his last four but has also struck out in eight straight games. Kazmar is hitting .341 off left-handed pitching while batting .255 off righties.

San Antonio (21-22) won 2-1 over Frisco (Rangers) in 13 innings

Simon Castro went seven strong, giving up just one unearned run on three hits and a pair of walks while striking out five. The right-hander needed just 75 pitches to cruise through seven, inducing 13 ground ball outs, including double play grounders in each of the first two frames. It was the third straight game he has allowed one run or less and the eighth time in nine outings that he has given up two earned or less. Castro has induced seven double play grounders this year – he had just three all of last year.

Alexis Lara finished the game off with four scoreless innings of relief work, as the bullpen combined to work six run-free frames. The right-hander gave up two hits and struck out three while also stranding a pair of inherited runners. He has stranded five of the seven runners he has inherited across three leagues this year. Lara has held left-handed hitters to a .138 average against and has given up just three extra-base hits.

Matt Clark was the lone player to record a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a solo homer. The bomb was his sixth of the season – five coming over his last nine games. It was also his third homer during the homestand after not belting one at home all year. While he has nine extra-base hits during the month of May, Clark has amassed just 11 RBI. This was his fourth solo homer.

Lake Elsinore (30-15) won 6-4 over Bakersfield (Rangers)

Erik Davis improved to 4-1 while giving up four runs on five hits across six innings. He hit a batter, tossed a wild pitch and struck out seven. This was the second time he has given up four runs and still earned the win. The right-hander has struck out seven or more four times this season. Davis has held the opposition to a .227 average against with runners in scoring position.

Robert Lara had three hits, including a solo homer, while scoring twice from the number eight spot in the lineup. The catcher is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak and has been on base in 14 of the 15 games he has played for the Storm. This was the first time he has recorded a three-hit game. Both of his homers have been solo shots.

Cole Figueroa added two more hits to extend his on-base streak to 26 games while Vince Belnome extended his on base streak to 25. Figueroa had two hits, including a double, while plating his 27th run. The infielder has 32 hits and 19 walks during the life of the streak, reaching base 2.08 times per game with three hit by pitches. The two-hole hitter is also batting .373 with runners in scoring position.

Fort Wayne (21-22) won 7-6 over West Michigan (Tigers)

Jeudy Valdez drove home the winning run with a bases loaded single, tossing his helmet to the ground in jubilation as he touched first base. The infielder battled through the at-bat, getting to a 3-2 count before taking the eighth pitch into left field for a line drive base hit – the last player in the starting nine to record a hit. Valdez also drew a bases loaded walk to give him two RBI for the game. The second baseman did have a fielding error in the first inning. Valdez is 7-for-18 over his last four games.

"I was looking for my pitch," Valdez said. "I knew I was 0-for-4. I was looking for a pitch down the middle. He threw it and I got a good swing. It was very exciting. I felt like I needed a hit with everyone else hitting. It was a fastball down the middle."

Rymer Liriano scored what was the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth before West Michigan tied it, setup by a double hit into the left-center field gap on the first pitch he saw. His two out base hit in the ninth turned out to be the real winner, as he touched home to celebrate a 7-6 TinCaps win.

"He has been working his butt off," hitting coach Tom Tornicasa said. "He knows what he has to do and is trying to refine it. Everything was out of control early in the year. His approach was bad. Now, he is starting to understand.

"We saw it last week where he was getting better and better but he wasn't having success so he was getting a little frustrated. Without an approach, you are never going to be in a position to hit. He needed a day like today."

Liriano was perfect on the day, drawing a pair of walks and adding two singles. He also stole his ninth base. Liriano did drop a ball in the outfield but was able to get the runner that went back to first on the play. Liriano fell while catching a ball two innings later. He also gunned down a runner at second base for an outfield assist – his second since he got one for dropping the ball and throwing ahead of the runner who went back. He had been hitless in 29 at-bats coming into the doubleheader and now has four hits in his last eight. It was the first time this year he has drawn two walks in a game.

"I struggled in Fort Wayne through the first 30 games," Liriano said. "Now, it is easier. I had a lot of frustration when I struck out or hit a pop up. Now is the time. I am improved mentally.

"My swing was tense. I was thinking too much, ‘Is it fastball, is it curveball, is it a pitch with sink?' Now, I am taking it easy and looking fastball, fastball, fastball."

Michael Watt tossed 71 pitches across five scoreless innings but earned a no-decision, despite seeing his team staked to a 4-0 lead. Watt worked through an error to the leadoff man in the first and then faced a first and third situation with nobody out in the fourth. He closed out that inning without allowing a run. It was the fifth time he has given up two runs or less. The southpaw threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 20 batters he faced.

"I have been battling the last couple of outings, as things didn't go so well," Hussey said. "I really changed my mindset. I was thinking a lot more confidently. I give a lot of credit to God for this outing.

"Even when I had guys in scoring position, I had a positive mindset that I was going to get the guys out. At no point did I give in."

"It was a real good outing," pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said. "What really helped him out was 19 out of 20 first-pitch strikes. His breaking ball was there and he pitched aggressive, pitched to contact. He had a great outing."

Before Watt came out in the fifth, he warmed up in the pen because the TinCaps had a long fourth and had to pause for an injury to the opposing pitcher.

"I actually had no problem staying warm," he said. "I actually was trying to cool down between innings in the dugout to get my rest. When it is hot like this, you just need to pick up a ball and you are warm."

Nate Freiman reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with a walk. The first baseman had a pair of ground-rule doubles, one coming on a 1-2 pitch hit into left center and the second coming on a 1-0 pitch that was lined down the left field line and got caught up in the bullpen. He also singled on a 1-2 pitch and scored twice. Freiman also had a great grab above his head on a sharp liner headed for the right field corner and a potential go-ahead run in the ninth. He has three straight multi-hit games and a six-game hitting streak, going 12-for-23 with seven runs scored and five RBI.

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