McDonald benefits from blasts

PORTLAND, Maine – It went from a duel to a shootout in just a few innings, but it wouldn’t have been that way without righty James McDonald.

McDonald, in his second rehab start with Altoona, went four innings – allowing just two hits – and the Curve’s offense blasted two solo homers to propel the team past Portland 2-1 in the second game of the series at Hadlock Field before 5,760.

It was the first wins for the Curve in three tries, but the team is still 11 games under .500.

The start for McDonald was much better than his first rehab game with the Curve when he pitched just 2/3 innings. He threw 33 pitches, giving up three earned runs and four walks in that start.

On Saturday, McDonald went four innings, the maximum he was allowed, striking out two, allowing two hits and no runs. McDonald threw just 38 pitches.

Ethan Hollingsworth (2-3) tossed the win as two homers in the seventh and ninth innings gave the Curve their only runs.

Charlie Cutler broke open the game when he hit a solo homer off of Brandon Workman in the seventh. It was just one of three hits surrendered by Workman, who went eight innings, striking out five.

Portland’s Michael Almanzar answered with one of his own, but then the Curve’s Mel Rojas Jr. hit a solo homer in the ninth to break the 1-1 tie off losing pitcher Miguel Celestino (1-2).

Nate Baker closed things out for the Curve, earning his second save.

Rojas has hit .350 in the last 10 games, the highest of any Curve player. Charlie Cutler is second, hitting .348. Rojas has driven in seven runs in the last 10 and has scored the most runs on the team (9).

Rojas finished the game with three of the Curve’s five hits. Cutler, who also doubled, had the other two hits for the Curve.

Altoona is 3-7 in its last ten, but is 2-3 in its previous five.

The Curve have one game left with Portland, today at 1 p.m., before an off-day. Monday will be the first off day for the Curve since May 13. Since that off day, the Curve have had just four games at home and have just won six total games. They will return home on Tuesday, taking on Reading.

Game recap

Key player: CF Mel Rojas Jr. had three of the Curve’s five hits, going 3-for-4 with a homer.

Key play: Rojas Jr. belted a solo shot in the ninth inning to break up a 1-1 tie.

Key stat: RHP James McDonald went four complete innings after struggling in his previou rehab start with the Curve when he went just 2/3 innings.

How they scored

Top 7th: Cutler homered (1-0).

Bottom 7th: Almanzar homered (1-1).

Top 9th: Rojas Jr. homered (2-1).