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Lancaster smacks seven homers
05/09/2008 1:08 AM ET
Daniel Nava had heard stories about the legendary homer-producing wind in Lancaster. After hitting two of the JetHawks' seven longballs Thursday night, Nava no longer has any doubts.

Nava, Josh Reddick and Reid Engel each homered twice to power the Lancaster JetHawks to a hefty 16-3 win over the visiting High Desert Mavericks on Thursday. Nava, in his first Minor League season, played down his first career multi-homer performance.

"Obviously I wasn't trying to hit them," he said with a laugh, "but I'll take them when I can get them."

The seven Lancaster longballs didn't break a team record though -- the JetHawks set the current California League mark with eight homers in a game against Lake Elsinore on Aug. 15, 1999.

The humble Nava went 4-for-4, scored four times, drove in three runs and raised his average to .315 in the friendly confines of Clear Channel Stadium. Despite hitting two homers, the rookie admitted he was in awe of his slugging teammates who combined to hit seven balls over the fence.

"The wind was blowing out a little bit, but Reddick and Engel both got into their balls," Nava said. "They would have been gone anywhere."

Reddick, hitting .364, went 4-for-4 with a two-run shot in the sixth inning and a solo drive in the eighth. Engel, batting .342, smacked a pair of two-run homers in the sixth and eighth, while Nava hit a two-run drive in the third and a solo blast in the seventh. Even Jason Place, homerless in his last 10 games and batting .194, popped a two-run homer in the fourth.

"We always heard about the wind in our field," Nava said, "but most of the time, honestly, the winds not even blowing."

Whatever was swirling around Lancaster was bad news for the Mavericks. Starter Keith Renaud (0-5) was victimized twice as his ERA jumped to 7.08. Reliever Juan Zapata allowed two more homers and was reached for six runs one inning, sending his ERA to 14.14. Bryan Harris left the ballpark with an 27.00 ERA.

That's excellent news, though, if you're a JetHawk.

"It was great, to be honest," Engel said. "We all swung so well, it was an explosive game. When things are clicking on all cylinders like that, it's a blast. We were enjoying ourselves."

The happiest of the JetHawks? Nava, a Redwood City, Calif. native, has quickly become an intriguing name in the Red Sox farm system. Less than a year ago, the 24-year-old earned a tryout with Boston when he was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 player in the independent leagues. Even when Lancaster is inconsistent, they still manage impressive numbers. The JetHawks have pounded home 49 runs in their last six games. Their 16 runs Thursday were also a season high, besting their previous 14-run effort against High Desert on April 5.

"We needed it," said Engel. "The past couple games we've been doing better, but we haven't clicked as a team."

It was the first two-homer game for Reddick since he went deep twice and plated six runs last July 23 for Class A Greenville. He managed the feat twice last season, his first time coming with two solo shots June 14 against Columbus.

Ironically, Engel also hit two homers in that June 14 contest, as did current Lancaster catcher Jon Still. Reddick ripped a pair of solo shots in the game, while Engel set a career high with four RBIs with two blasts.

"We were talking about that and how funny it was," said Engel. "Tonight, baseball is fun, everyone is all smiles in the dugout. It breeds success."

It was the first multi-homer game in Nava's professional career. The 24-year-old switch-hitter slugged his first career homer April 10 and drove in a season-high four RBIs in a 14-5 win over Lake Elsinore.

"I think obviously today we put up some numbers, but going into the series we were a little frustrated," said Nava. "We're starting to find our roles and we're having a good time."

Reddick, who was briefly called up to Double-A Portland last season, began the season with Greenville and hit .340 in 14 games to earn a promotion to Lancaster. The Savannah, Ga. native is hitting .364 with four homers and nine RBIs in 15 games with the JetHawks.

Engel, in his second season, is batting .342 in 25 games. He's hit three homers in his last three games.

"I just squared it up, I wasn't thinking about hitting another one, but that's always when I'll hit them," said Engel, who had nine last season. "It was fun."

Lancaster starter Adam Mills (4-2) allowed two runs on six hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings for the win. He struck out three. Josh Papelbon hurled 1 2/3 scoreless frames for his first hold of the season before Blake Maxwell closed out the final two innings.

"It's good for us to get on track and get to be where we want to be," Nava said. "And obviously, the mood on the team is going to be pretty good."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.