JUPITER, Fla. - The Palm Beach Cardinals (13-13, 42-53) grounded into four double plays, committed three errors and were out-hit 13-6 in a 6-3 loss to the Brevard County Manatees (11-12, 38-55) in game three of a four-game series Tuesday night at Roger Dean Stadium.
The Cardinals have now lost three in a row for the first time since being swept in a four-game series by the Daytona Cubs May 18-21 and dropped to .500 in the second-half season.
Eric Fornataro (6-8, 3.95 ERA) matched a season high by allowing 10 hits in 6.0 innings but kept the damage minimal with just three earned runs, walking one and striking out four. The fourth-year righty continues to a pitcher of streaks, having now lost two straight after winning three in a row in late June.
Brevard County got on Fornataro for all three runs in the second inning, beginning with a leadoff bunt single from D'Vontrey Richardson and a one-out hit by pitch. Sean McCraw then drove home two with a double to deep center field and was followed by consecutive singles to load the bases with still one away. Kentrail Davis capped the scoring with a RBI-groundout to shortstop, leaving the 'Tees on top 3-0 early on.
Neither team managed much at the plate after the second until later on in the eighth, as Fornataro and Manatees starter Nick Bucci (6-8, 3.58 ERA) settled in to hold their opponents off the board before turning to the bullpen. Brevard County put runners on base in every inning against Fornataro and eventually every frame overall, finishing the contest with 13 men left on base.
Justin Smith came on in the seventh and fired a scoreless inning before running into trouble with two outs in the eighth. A walk and a single to Davis forced Keith Butler into action, but the right-hander issued another free pass and gave up a two-run single to Hunter Morris that put Brevard County on top 5-0.
Palm Beach put together its only rally of the night in the eighth and it could have been much more, coming away with just one run to end the frame after loading the bases with nobody out. Greg Garcia drove home two with a triple earlier in the inning but Xavier Scruggs grounded into a double play with the bags juiced, scoring one but dampening any potential threat and keeping the score at 5-3.
Brevard County picked up another insurance run in the ninth thanks in part to an error from Domnit Bolivar, finalizing the unfortunate 6-3 final. Bolivar and Starlin Rodriguez each contributed a pair of singles while Roque Mercedes picked up his second save of the season for the 'Tees.
Young right-hander Carlos Martinez (1-1, 3.78 ERA) will make his second appearance at Roger Dean Stadium tomorrow afternoon in a 12:05 p.m. game against Tyler Thornburg (2-2, 2.05 ERA) and the Manatees. Palm Beach is looking to salvage one game of the four-game set before hitting the road for an eight-game trip beginning Thursday.
For more information on the Palm Beach Cardinals, Class-A Advanced affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, please call (561) 775-1818 or visit www.palmbeachcardinals.com. For tickets and more information regarding Roger Dean Stadium, please visit www.rogerdeanstadium.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.