READING, Pa.---Maikel Franco knocked a pair of home runs for the first time in Double-A and drove in five runs to power the Reading Fightin Phils (45-59) past the New Britain Rock Cats (48-58), 7-2, in front of 7,884 fans Friday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Reading fell behind by one run at the outset of the game on a Danny Santana triple and RBI single from Eddie Rosario. The Fightins fought back, though, in the bottom half of the frame when Franco took Rock Cats starter Pat Dean deep for a two-out solo home run to tie the game. Jim Murphy followed with a single and scored in the next at-bat when Kelly Dugan hit a conclusive two-run round-tripper to grab the lead for the Fightins.
The Fightins maintained the lead throughout the game thanks to Mario Hollands, who rebounded nicely in his first start since giving up six earned runs at Portland last weekend. Following a first inning where he gave up the run-scoring hit to Rosario, Hollands sailed through the next four innings and struck out five batters while holding New Britain scoreless. Hollands had a minor miscue in his last inning of work when he surrendered an unearned run after Evan Bigley reached second on a bobbled catch by Anthony Hewitt in right field. Bigley then scored on the next play when Dan Rohlfing hit a single to cut Reading's lead to one.
For the evening, Hollands allowed one earned run on seven hits and two walks. The Fightins bullpen locked down the winning decision for Hollands, as Bobby Bramhall, Colby Shreve, and Juan Sosa combined for three scoreless innings of relief.
While the Rock Cats narrowed the lead to one run in the sixth, it would be the closest they would get to overtaking the Fightins. Albert Cartwright, Edgar Duran, and Franco strung together three straight hits in the sixth, with Franco's single plating Cartwright for the team's fourth run and Franco's second RBI.
The third baseman roared again in the eighth inning during his final at-bat when he hit a three-run blast to the LaunchDM Pub in left field, his seventh home run in Double-A and 23rd of the season, to drive home Cartwright and Duran. He wrapped up his night by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and five RBIs.
RHP Seth Rosin (8-4, 4.46 ERA) will head out to the mound Saturday when Reading looks for the series win versus New Britain and RHP DJ Baxendale (3-3, 4.70 ERA). Tune into Oldies 1340 WRAW-AM, Service Electric's 2Sports, or MiLB.TV for the game broadcast with Fightins play-by-play announcer Anthony Oppermann at 6:05 p.m.
Fightins Fillers: For the second straight night, Kelly Dugan drove in two runs. It was his second multi-RBI games and his 12 multi-RBI game of the season. His 12th overall homer also matched a career high…Dugan and Cartwright each finished with a pair of hits...The win was the most lopsided win for Reading since defeating New Britain, 8-2, on 6/30.