JUPITER, Fla. - Jupiter was held to five hits in their 3-1 loss to the Palm Beach Cardinals Sunday night at Roger Dean Stadium.
With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth, RHP Pete Andrelczyk walked Palm Beach's Danny Stienstra to leadoff the inning. After a mound visit from pitching coach Joe Coleman, Andrelczyk served up a 2-0 pitch that Jonathan Rodriguez crushed over the left field fence, giving the Cardinals the 3-1 lead.
Danny Miranda-who blew the save by allowing an inherited base runner to score on a Brent Keys RBI single in the eighth inning-closed the door on Jupiter in the ninth to seal the victory for Palm Beach.
Kurt Heyer tossed six shutout innings for the visiting Cardinals, allowing just three hits while striking out a season-high eight batters. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-hander threw 65 of 90 pitches for strikes (72 percent).
After allowing 18 earned runs in his first 25.1 innings this season, Heyer has been nearly untouchable in his last two starts, holding opponents to zero runs on five hits and three walks, striking out 15.
Justin Nicolino worked six strenuous innings for Jupiter, throwing a season-high 101 pitches (68 strikes). He allowed nine hits, tying a season-high. But four strikeouts and some nifty defensive plays helped the left-hander lower his ERA to a Florida State League-leading 2.18.
After a 22-pitch first inning, Nicolino labored through the second, yielding three hits. The last one came off the bat of Ronny Gil, who singled to left field with two on and two outs. But left fielder Brent Keys threw out Anthony Garcia at home to end the threat.
With two on and one out in the third, Nicolino induced a ground ball double-play off the bat of Stienstra, who now leads the Cardinals with 10 such outs.
Nicolino's defense picked him up again in the top of the fifth. With the score still tied at zero, Alex Mejia hit a two-out single to right field, advancing teammate Colin Walsh to third. As Mejia rounded first base, right fielder Isaac Galloway fired to shortstop Austin Nola at second base to tag the runner and-once again-end the threat.
The Cardinals broke the scoreless tie in the sixth on Jonathan Rodriguez's sacrifice fly, scoring Starlin Rodriguez, who leadoff the inning with a double.
The double was one of three hits for Starlin Rodriguez Sunday night, extending his multi-hit games streak to four. Since being added to the Palm Beach roster on June 20, Rodriguez is batting .333/.403/.460 with a homer and nine RBI.
Chris Valaika went 1-for-4 from the cleanup spot for Jupiter. His final at-bat in the bottom of the ninth drew a roar from the crowd as it sailed deep to left-center, but fell just short of the fence.
Valaika is on Major League rehab assignment from Miami. He's been on the disabled list since May 8 with a fractured left wrist.
Christian Yelich went 0-for-4 from the three-hole for Jupiter. The 21-year-old is also rehabbing from an abdominal injury he suffered with Double-A Jacksonville on June 5.
The 3-1 loss marks the 22nd time the Hammerheads have been held to one run or less this season. They are 1-21 in such games.
Jupiter and Palm Beach will play once more in Monday night's series rubber match at Roger Dean Stadium. RHP Jose Urena (8-3, 3.14 ERA) will start for the Hammerheads. He'll be opposed by Cardinals' starter LHP Kyle Hald (4-6, 5.20 ERA).
For more information on the Jupiter Hammerheads, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Miami Marlins, please call (561) 775-1818 or visit JupiterHammerheads.com. For tickets and more information about Roger Dean Stadium, visit RogerDeanStadium.com.