RICHMOND, Va. - Tommy Joseph went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs and Mark Minicozzi went 4-for-5 to lead the Richmond Flying Squirrels (49-47) to a 5-3 victory over the Altoona Curve (44-49) in the opener of a three-game series at The Diamond Monday night. Richmond starter Chris Heston allowed two earned runs in five and 1/3 innings of work to earn his first win since June 7. The Squirrels now have three straight wins and eight in their last nine games.
Altoona grabbed the early lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Robbie Grossman and Brock Holt hit consecutive singles to start the frame. Adalberto Santos followed with an RBI single that plated Grossman and enabled Holt to reach third base. Holt came home on a fielder's choice off the bat of Matt Curry, which gave the Curve a 2-0 advantage.
The Curve maintained a two-run lead until the bottom of the third. Daniel Mayora hit a two-out single off Altoona starter Brandon Cumpton and he promptly stole second base. Joseph ripped a double into the right-center field gap, which scored Mayora and cut Altoona's lead in half, to 2-1.
Richmond evened the score an inning later. Russ Mitchell drew a one-out walk and he advanced to third base on a single from Juan Ciriaco. After Cumpton retired Heston, Ehire Adrianza laid down a bunt single and Mitchell raced home to tie the game at 2-2.
The Flying Squirrels seized the lead in the bottom of the fifth. With one out in the inning, Joseph and Minicozzi hit consecutive singles. Following a walk to Mitchell, Cumpton issued a bases-loaded walk to Ciriaco, which plated Joseph and put Richmond in front 3-2.
Richmond added to its lead in the sixth. Adrianza hit a leadoff double off Curve reliever Jeff Inman and he advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Cavan. After Mayora lined out to second baseman Jarek Cunningham, Joseph delivered a two-out RBI single that scored Adrianza and extended Richmond's lead to 4-2.
After Altoona scored a run in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Curry to cut Richmond's lead to 4-3, the Squirrels answered with a valuable insurance run in the bottom of the frame. With runners at the corners and two outs, Cavan hit an RBI single off Inman that scored Ciriaco and made it a 5-3 ballgame.
Heston (7-4) overcame a shaky first inning, in which he allowed four hits and two earned runs, and did not allow a run for the next four and 1/3 innings before exiting the game in the top of the sixth. Cumpton (8-8) was charged with the loss after allowing seven hits and three earned runs in five innings pitched. Daryl Maday held Altoona scoreless for the final inning and a third and he earned his ninth save of the season.
The Squirrels will aim for their fourth straight win when they take on Altoona Curve in game two of the three-game series on Tuesday night at The Diamond. First pitch is slated for 7:05 PM. Richmond will send LHP Mike Kickham (7-7, 2.72). Altoona is expected to counter with RHP Tim Alderson (4-3, 3.58). Pregame coverage will begin at 6:35 PM on Sports Radio 910 and SportsRadio910.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.