KINSTON, NC (Monday, July 2) - The Salem Red Sox got a career-best nine strikeouts out of starting pitcher Tanner Houck Monday night, but wildness and a lack of clutch hitting sent them to a 6-3 loss to the Down East Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium.
The Red Sox (5-6, 37-42) dropped their second game as they saw their bats go quiet down the stretch Monday night, as they got only one baserunner after the fifth inning and went 1-8 with runners in scoring position . The Wood Ducks (6-6, 40-41) jumped ahead early and never trailed in the game, getting superb relief efforts from Kaleb Fontenot (H, 3) and Cole Wiper (S, 1) to lock down the win.
The Wood Ducks wasted little time, breaking through in the bottom of the first against Houck (L, 3-10). Leadoff man Josh Altmann placed a single in shallow left, and advanced to second when Leody Taveras earned a walk. Anderson Tejeda thumped a double to deep left-center field to plate Altmann, and a wild pitch brought in Taveras to make it 2-0. Houck managed to stem the tide there, striking out two and inducing a ground-out to end the frame. Down East added another run in the second when Eric Jenkins slapped a two-out liner to right-center for a triple, and another Houck wild pitch brought him in from third to run the lead to 3-0.
Salem trimmed the lead down in the top of the third inning against Wood Ducks starter Robby Rowland (W, 1-1), who surrendered a one-out walk to Brett Netzer before a C.J. Chatham groundout advanced Netzer to second. Bobby Dalbec hit a bouncer to third, but Chuck Leblanc threw the ball into the stands; the error moved Dalbec to second and brought Netzer home to cut the lead to 3-1. The Wood Ducks restored the lead immediately, though, as Tejeda launched an opposite-field homer with one out in the bottom of the third to make it 4-1.
The Sox made up some ground in the top of the fifth inning, as Tyler Hill and Netzer each singled to open the inning before a double steal put them at second and third with nobody out. Chatham struck out, but Dalbec hammered a fly to deep right that Franklin Rollin robbed at the wall. The deep fly was good enough for a sacrifice fly to score Hill, and Netzer came in on a single by Mike Osinski to bring the Sox within one at 4-3.
Down East earned a run back in the bottom of the sixth against Salem reliever Kevin McAvoy. With Rollin at first and one out, the Wood Ducks executed a hit-and-run, with Eric Jenkins singling to center and Rollin reaching third on the play. Jenkins pilfered second, and Altmann popped out for the second out, but McAvoy walked Taveras, loading the bases for Tejeda. The slugging shortstop worked the count full and earned a walk of his own, scoring Rollin to extend Down East's lead to 5-3. The Wood Ducks added another homer in the bottom of the eighth, as Josh Altmann cranked a solo shot to left off Yankory Pimentel to give Down East their final 6-3 lead.
Houck allowed four runs on four hits and five walks in 4.2 innings, matching a career-best with nine strikeouts. McAvoy surrendered a run on one hit and three walks over 2.1 frames. Pimentel was touched up for one run on the solo homer in his lone inning of action.
The Sox will try to earn a series split Tuesday night, with southpaw Darwinzon Hernandez making the start for Salem against Wood Ducks righty Steven Bruce. First pitch at Grainger Stadium in Kinston is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., and the pregame show with Ben Gellman and Suzie Cool begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Red Sox broadcast network.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.