From Mirror Reports
ERIE - Things were looking up for the Curve at the beginning of the week.
The team had just won three of four games in a series against Richmond - which concluded Sunday - and had taken five of seven in the month of May. But since the Richmond series, the Curve have failed to keep that momentum going.
Altoona lost, 7-3, to Erie on Friday at Jerry Uht Park. It was the Curve's fourth straight loss and pushed them further into the basement of the Western Division.
Phil Irwin made his 2012 Curve debut but was ineffective in five innings. Irwin (0-1) gave up four runs on five hits, struck out one and picked up the loss.
Irwin spent a good portion of last season with the Curve and went 8-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts). A shoulder injury kept Irwin from starting this season in Altoona, but now that he is healthy, he figures to be a key part of the Curve's rotation moving forward.
Tonight: Altoona at Erie, 7:05 p.m.
Pitching matchups: Curve RHP Brandon Cumpton (4-2, 3.44) vs. SeaWolves RHP James Avery (4-2, 2.70)
Only 42 of Irwin's 81 pitches were strikes, and he managed to pitch around it and allowed just two walks. But Irwin wasn't the only starting pitcher who struggled with control.
SeaWolves starter Jared Wesson could not find the strike zone in the fourth inning. Wesson walked four batters in the frame and left the game with two outs and the bases loaded.
The Curve pushed a run across the plate due to the four free passes in the fourth, but it would be the only run they scored in the inning as they failed to come up with a timely hit.
Mark Sorensen ended up replacing Wesson and picking up the win for the SeaWolves. Sorensen (1-2) tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit over that span while recording three strikeouts.
The Curve's offense was pretty much silent after the fourth inning. Though Altoona did muster a run in the eighth, the team struck out six times and had three just hits in the final five innings.
The Curve had men on base with seven hits and six walks, but they struggled to drive runners home and stranded 10 on base. In total, the Curve were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and struck out 11 times.
Those 11 punchouts included three from catcher Tony Sanchez, who ended up going 0-for-5 to snap his 19-game on-base streak.
Key player: Erie LF Ben Guez reached base every time he came to the plate, had two hits (one being a solo homer in the sixth), and scored four of the SeaWolves' seven runs.
Key play: CF Robbie Grossman grounded out with the bases loaded to end the top of the fourth inning. Erie starter Jared Wesson issued four walks in the inning, but the Curve failed to take full advantage and scored just one run.
Key stat: The Curve's four-game losing streak matches their longest skid of the season, and at 13-20, they are a season-high seven games below .500.
How they scored
Bottom 1st: Romero doubled, scored on Brantly groundout (0-1); Lennerton solo homer (0-2).
Top 2nd: Farrell solo homer (1-2).
Bottom 2nd: Guez doubled, scored on Rockett sac fly (1-3).
Top 4th: Cabrera walked, scored on Brown walk (2-3).
Bottom 4th: Guez walked, scored on Jones sac fly (2-4).
Bottom 6th: Guez solo home run (2-5); Jones solo home run (2-6).
Top 8th: Cabrera doubled, scored on Cutler sac fly (3-6).
Bottom 8th: Guez walked, scored on Jones double (3-7)