(Reading, Pa.)---Anchored by two effective outings by starters Trevor May and Julio Rodriguez, the Reading Phillies (55-51) swept Saturday's doubleheader versus the New Britain Rock Cats (58-49) at FirstEnergy Stadium. Reading held on to defeat the Rock Cats in Game One, 5-4, while they routed the Rock Cats in Game Two, 6-0.
The sweep moved the R-Phils two games closer to an Eastern League playoff berth as they now sit 2.5-games behind the Rock Cats in the Eastern Division. With their fourth doubleheader sweep of the season, Reading is now 9-1 in doubleheaders this season. The sweep also gave May and Rodriguez their first winning decisions since June.
The R-Phils roared out to a three-run lead in Game One, highlighted by a powerful effort from Darin Ruf. In the first inning, the Nebraska native hit a run-scoring double to center field to plate Jiwan James. Two frames later, the slugger hit a monstrous solo home run in the third inning. His career-high 18th homer of the season was hit with such power that it bounced of the video board in left-center field. Team officials estimated that the distance on the home run was between 435 and 445 feet. Ruf was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Starter Trevor May pitched 5.1 effective innings for his first winning decision during the month of July. The outing, where he also allowed two earned runs on four hits and four walks, was May's longest since he last six innings in a win against Akron on June 15.
May cruised through the first five innings as the top Phillies prospect gave up just three hits including a solo line drive home run in the fourth inning. In the sixth inning, though, May yielded a single and two walks to load the bases before surrendering a sacrifice fly to Deibinson Romero. May walked Rene Tosoni in the next at-bat before being pulled by manager Dusty Wathan in favor of southpaw Frank Gailey.
Gailey held off the sixth inning New Britain rally and recorded the inning's final two outs. Reading's three-run lead was threatened in the seventh inning when the Rock Cats cut the lead to one-run after scoring two runs with two outs in the inning. The West Chester product then retired Rene Tosoni with a called strike out to pick up his first save at the Double-A level.
James and Tug Hulett each recorded two hits in Game One, with Hulett adding an RBI fielder's choice in the first inning.
After going 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA over his first 13 starts of the season, Game Two starter Rodriguez struggled through his past seven starts in the end of June through July where he posted a 1-3 record with a 7.80 ERA. That was until the latter portion of tonight's doubleheader.
Rodriguez returned to form and allowed only three hits over six shutout innings to lead the R-Phils a doubleheader-sweeping win. The Puerto Rico native struck out eight hitters, the most since he accomplished the same feat at Bowie on June 22. His outing was also the fewest earned runs he has given up since May 8 where Rodriguez hurled five shutout innings against Trenton.
His efforts were aided by more run support led by Eastern League All-Stars Cesar Hernandez and Leandro Castro. Hernandez helped Reading jump out to a two-run lead in the third inning when he sliced a two-run double to center field, scoring Troy Hanzawa and Cody Asche. The R-Phils were hushed in the next two frames by New Britain starter Aaron Thompson, but the offensive outburst would roll into the sixth inning when Leandro Castro capped off a four-run inning with a two-run home run to left field.
Hernandez finished by going 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI. Asche, Hanzawa, and D'Arby Myers each added two hits in the second game.
Reading looks for its second four-game sweep of the season on Sunday at 6:05 p.m. when left-handed pitcher Mario Hollands (2-5/5.10) gets the call. Tune into 1340 WRAW-AM on the radio dial or online at 1340WRAW.com starting at 5:35 p.m. for the game broadcast with the voice of the Reading Phillies, Brian Seltzer. Fans with Service Electric Cable can also tune into the game on 2Sports with Steve Degler and Bob McCool.
Tickets for all regular season home games, including the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor Soap Dispenser on Sunday, July 29, can be purchased online at www.RPhils.com, by phone at 610-370-BALL, and in person at the R-Phils Ticket Office at FirstEnergy Stadium. The 2012 season featuring the Baseballtown All-Star Classic at America's Classic Ballpark is presented by Pepsi.