Miguel Nunez's early struggles paved the way for a 9-2 Threshers' defeat to the hands of the Palm Beach Cardinals Thursday night at Roger Dean Stadium.
Nunez (2-4) ran into trouble in the second inning, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks.
After getting Luke Volt to ground out, Nunez walked Alex Mejia before getting David Washington to fly out. Nunez then walked Jesus Montero to give the Cardinals two on with two out.
Bruce Caldwell then singled to left, scoring Mejia from second and plating Montero on errors by left fielder Brandon Short and third baseman KC Serna.
Jimmy Bosco doubled home Caldwell to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
Charlie Tilson walked to set up Ildemaro Vargas with runners at first and second with two out.
Vargas singled in Tilson to push the Cardinals' lead to 4-0 before Breyvic Valera grounded out to end the inning.
Palm Beach (29-31) would pile on five more runs in the fifth off of Nunez and reliever Jeb Stefan to give the Cardinals a 9-0 lead. The inning included four hits, two hit batters, and a sac fly.
Clearwater (12-47) had its chances to take an early lead in the first with back-to-back singles by Roman Quinn and Serna, but Short's double play followed by a Chris Serritella ground out ended the Threshers' threat.
Brian Pointer and Corey Bass drew two-out walks in the second, but would be left stranded after Angelo Mora struck out.
The Threshers would break through with two runs off of reliever Kyle Barraclough in the seventh to cut the game to 9-2.
Pointer drew a one-out walk off of Barraclough, who had come in at the beginning of the inning for starter Slifredo Garcia (3-1), and would come around to score after three straight singles by Bass, Mora, and Quinn.
After Serna popped up for an infield fly, Bass would score on a wild pitch with Short batting, to give the Threshers their second run of the inning.
Clearwater will attempt to take game three of the four-game set Friday night against Palm Beach, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m.