RICHMOND, Va. - The Curve's best pitcher couldn't prevent them from sinking to a season-high 11 games below .500 Tuesday night.
A.J. Morris leads the Eastern League in ERA but gave up six runs - only two earned - as Altoona lost to Richmond, 7-5, at The Diamond. The Curve have lost four in a row and once again this one came as a result of the pitching staff not getting the job done to help the offense.
The Curve fell behind 4-0, only to rally for five runs in the fifth inning to take a one-run lead. Morris couldn't protect it, though, as he immediately gave up two runs in Richmond's next at-bat.
A key error in the second inning allowed the Flying Squirrels to score four unearned runs. Shortstop Alen Hanson dropped a throw from Morris on a forceout attempt at second base, and the pitcher couldn't work around it as he gave up two singles and a three-run triple after the error.
Elias Diaz started the Curve rally with a homer to start the fifth inning. Morris helped himself at the plate with an RBI double, and Gift Ngoepe tripled home two runs to tie it at 4-4. Hanson gave Altoona a 5-4 lead with a sacrifice fly.
While all four runs charged to Morris in the second were unearned, he gave up two earned runs in the bottom of the fifth to fall behind. Devin Harris doubled home the go-ahead run, and Richmond added an insurance run in the seventh off the Curve bullpen.
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: The Curve are 8-17 on the road, which accounts for the bulk of their record of 11 games below .500. They're 12-14 at home.
SAFE AT FIRST: Richmond's city council was scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal for a new ballpark, but the vote was postponed by Mayor Dwight Jones. The proposal was expected to be defeated, so the mayor postponed the vote so council members could get more information before making their final decision.
STEALING SECOND: The Flying Squirrels play in an old, outdated, concrete monstrosity called The Diamond. As pointed out on ballparkdigest.com, as bad as The Diamond is, the Flying Squirrels' need for a costly new ballpark is actually hurt because they already draw so well. Richmond leads the Eastern League in attendance at 6,831 per game.
ROUNDING THIRD: The Curve got C Ralph Henriquez back from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday and sent C Kawika Emsley-Pai back to low-A West Virginia. Henriquez is 1-for-33 (.030) at the plate for Altoona and went 0-for-3 at Indy.
HEADING HOME: Emsley-Pai went 0-for-8 for the Curve. The other catcher used this season, Carlos Paulino, went 0-for-6 before getting injured. So the three backup catchers have combined to go 1-for-44 (.023 average).
- Cory Giger
Morris (5-1) suffered his first loss, giving up eight hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He had only given up seven runs all season before allowing six Tuesday. His ERA rose from 1.43 to 1.65.
Richmond starter Adalberto Mejia (2-4) picked up the win despite allowing five runs in six innings. Cody Hall finished it off in the ninth for his third save.
Key player: 2B Kelby Tomlinson went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs for Richmond.
Key play: The Flying Squirrels answered with two runs in the fifth to reclaim the lead after the Curve had just gone ahead by one.
Key stat: The Curve have lost four in a row and are a season-high 11 games below .500.
How they scored
Bottom 2nd: Parker hit by pitch, scored on Harris single (0-1); Oropesa reached on Hanson error, Graham singled, both scored along with Harris on Tomlinson triple (0-4).
Top 5th: Diaz solo homer (1-4); Garcia doubled, scored on Morris double (2-4); Cunningham walked, scored along with Morris on Ngoepe triple (4-4); Hanson sacrifice fly scored Ngoepe (5-4).
Bottom 5th: Tomlinson singled, scored on Oropesa groundout (5-5); Duffy walked, scored on Harris double (5-6).
Bottom 7th: Tomlinson singled, scored on Lisson single (5-7).