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Cunningham runs Curve streak to eight

June 21, 2013
By Darian Somers , The Altoona Mirror

Curve manager Carlos Garcia said he doesn't have any lucky underwear.

"Nothing like that so far," he said with a chuckle.

Though, something is causing the streak, and it's probably key hitting like the Curve got on Thursday night.

Jarek Cunningham belted a solo homer as the Curve finished a three-game sweep of New Hampshire, downing the Fisher Cats, 7-4, before 3,182 at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The home run helped break a 4-4 tie as the Curve extended their winning streak to eight games, the longest since 2010 when the team won eight straight and later won the Eastern League title.

"At this point, we are playing great baseball," Garcia said. "We are really confident. We are executing the plays. The starting pitching has been outstanding. That's how you have the opportunity to win every night."

Cunningham's homer was his 14th this season, and at game end, he is tied for the league lead with former Curve outfielder Andrew Lambo, who was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Fact Box

Next stop

Tonight: Altoona at Bowie, 7 p.m.

Pitchers: Curve RHP Nick Kingham (1-0, 0.00) vs. Baysox LHP Jake Pettit (3-3, 5.20)

Record: 33-37

"It wasn't anything that was a goal of mine," Cunningham said of his power-hitting season. "But it was something I could get back to. I definitely wanted to do more than I did last year."

Timely hitting has played a big factor in the winning streak. Cunningham's homer comes one night after Alex Dickerson belted a two run shot to break a 2-2 tie as the Curve beat the Fisher Cats 5-2.

The previous night Adalberto Santos knocked in Drew Maggi in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Mix in starting pitching that has allowed just four earned runs in 35 2/3 innings,and the Curve are now just four games under .500 after being 12 under on June 11.

"It's really important," Garcia said of starting pitching. "When you are on the ropes, a lot of things have to happen. The starting pitching has to become consistent. The offense has to be consistent. The defense has to be outstanding, and we are doing all three of them."

Starter Casey Sadler pitched 6 innings on Thursday, giving up three runs and striking out three. Jhonathan Ramos (1-0) earned the win, and Luis Sanz picked up his sixth save this season.

Cunningham's timely homer came off of Matt Wright, who got the loss. The Curve then added some insurance, scoring two runs in the eighth.

"It's just a lot of fun," Cunningham said. "You can definitely tell the emotions are different in the clubhouse. Everyone is a little bit happier. You play a lot better baseball when you are not on edge the whole time."

Along with Cunningham's night, Gift Ngoepe went 2-for-3, scoring twice and driving in two runs.

The Curve will take the key hitting and all-around team effort to Bowie, where they will try to win two more to tie the franchise record of 10 straight wins.

"When they realize that where this is another league, ' I know I can do this. I know I can put good balls in there,'" Garcia said of players like Ngoepe who are spending their first season in Double-A. "Things start happening for them. Confidence, other than that, that's the only reason [the streak] started."

Game recap

Key player: LF Mel Rojas Jr went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a double.

Key play: 2B Jarek Cunningham hit a solo home run to break up 4-4 tie in the bottom of the seventh.

Key stat: The Curve have now won eight straight, the longest winning streak since 2010.

How they scored

Top 1st: Loewen doubled, scored on Jimenez double (0-1).

Bottom 1st: Polanco singled, scored on Cutler walk (1-1).

Bottom 2nd: Ngoepe singled, scored on Rojas double (2-1).

Bottom 3rd: Dickerson singled, scored on Cutler sacrifice fly (3-1); Cunningham doubled, scored on Ngoepe sacrifice fly (4-1).

Top 7th: Loewen singled, scored on Jimenez double (4-2); Jimenez doubled, scored on Nolan single (4-3); Glenn walked, scored on Schimpf single (4-4).

Bottom 7th: Cunningham homered (5-4).

Bottom 8th: Howard singled, scored on Ngoepe double (6-4); Ngoepe singled, scored on Rojas Jr. single (7-4).

 
 

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