READING - It's somewhat cruel irony to lose the way the Curve did Wednesday night.
Altoona belted four home runs, including three in one inning. Then Jarek Cunningham blasted a solo shot in the top of the ninth to break up a tie game.
But while the Curve were busy hitting solo blasts, Reading did it the more efficient way, smacking a pair of three-run homers. The second one came in the bottom of the ninth from Anthony Hewitt and gave the Fightin' Phils a 7-5 walk-off win at First Energy Stadium.
The Curve have lost five in a row, and at 19-27, they've once again matched their season low point of eight games below .500.
Cunningham hit his eighth homer to start the ninth inning for a 5-4 lead, after Reading had just tied it at 4-4 in the eighth as Hewitt scored on an error by shortstop Gift Ngoepe.
Curve reliever Jason Townsend (1-2), who had finished off the eighth to keep things tied, ran into trouble immediately in the ninth. Cameron Rupp doubled to start the inning, and Albert Cartwright reached on a bunt hit.
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: Pirates RHP Jeff Karstens originally was scheduled to make a rehab start today for the Curve at Reading, but that was canceled Wednesday. The organization is still trying to determine when and where Karstens will rehab next.
SAFE AT FIRST: SS Chase d'Arnaud went 1-for-4 with a single in a rehab start for the Curve on Wednesday. He singled and scored on a triple by Mel Rojas Jr. in the third inning. d'Arnaud is 1-for-11 in three games for the Curve so far.
STEALING SECOND: This series is the only time all season the Curve will play in Reading. The two teams used to be in the same division and visited each other frequently, but the Fightin Phils are now in the opposite division.
ROUNDING THIRD: C Charlie Cutler continues to be an invaluable member of the offense. He homered Wednesday at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat, and he's hitting .322 with 13 RBIs in only 59 at-bats.
HEADING HOME: The Curve return to Peoples Natural Gas Field on Friday to begin a four-game homestand against Richmond.
Two batters later, Hewitt drilled an 0-2 pitch over the wall in left for a walk-off homer.
The Curve had only seven hits, and four of them left the ballpark. Trailing 3-1, they belted three solo homers in the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead.
Andrew Lambo opened the fourth with a homer to right, his team-leading ninth of the year. Charlie Cutler then had a 10-pitch at-bat that culminated with a homer to left on a 3-2 pitch to tie the game.
Justin Howard, who has been with the Curve all season but has seldom played with only 19 at-bats, smacked a homer to right later in the fourth to put the Curve ahead.
Rupp hit Reading's first three-run homer, off Altoona starter David Bromberg, in the first inning. Bromberg gave up four runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings and struck out eight with no walks.
Brody Colvin (2-0) picked up the win in relief for Reading.
Key player: RF Anthony Hewitt went 2-for-4 with three RBIs for Reading.
Key play: Hewitt's three-run homer gave the Fightin Phils a walk-off win.
Key stat: The Curve hit four solo homers but lost their fifth straight game and have matched a season low at eight games below .500.
How they scored
Bottom 1st: Gillies reached on Santos error, Henson singled, both scored on Rupp three-run homer (0-3).
Top 3rd: d'Arnaud singled, scored on Rojas Jr. triple (1-3).
Top 4th: Lambo solo homer (2-3); Cutler solo homer (3-3); Howard solo homer (4-3).
Bottom 8th: Hewitt singled, scored on Ngoepe error (4-4).
Top 9th: Cunningham solo homer (5-4).
Bottom 9th: Rupp doubled, Cartwright singled, both scored on Hewitt three-run homer (5-7).