Altoona suffers tough defeat

AKRON, Ohio – The Curve might not suffer a more disappointing loss all season than the one they had Thursday night.

Altoona belted four homers, two by Keon Broxton, and led by five runs entering the seventh inning but blew it, losing 9-7 to Akron at Canal Park. The RubberDucks rallied from a 7-2 deficit by scoring twice in the seventh inning and five times in the eighth, highlight by a grand slam from shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Broxton hit a solo homer in the fourth for a 5-1 lead and belted a two-run shot in the sixth to make it 7-2. Broxton has been on fire at the plate lately, with an eight-game hitting streak that has more than doubled his average from .136 to .278. He has collected two hits in three straight games and four of the past five.

Elias Diaz also smacked a two-run homer for the Curve, while Willy Garcia hit a solo shot. All of it went for naught, though, as the pitching staff – the strength of the team all season – failed to protect the 7-2 lead.

Akron cut the deficit to 7-6 when Ronny Rodriguez led off the eighth with a double and scored on a groundout against reliever Jhonathan Ramos, who allowed three runs. Ryan Beckman took over for Ramos but had a rough night, walking the first batter he faced to load the bases.

Lindor, a very impressive offensive shortstop, came up and drilled a ball over the wall in right for a grand slam to give Akron a 9-7 lead. Lindor is hitting .298 with a team-high 23 RBIs to go along with four homers.

Curve starter Adrian Sampson was having a solid night, allowing just two runs through six innings, but he struggled in the seventh. Akron tagged him for two more runs to begin its rally.

Sampson entered the game with the best ERA in the Eastern League at 1.53, but he allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings and now ranks second in ERA at 2.27.

Game recap

Key player: SS Francisco Lindor went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and a run for Akron.

Key play: Lindor’s grand slam in the eighth gave the RubberDucks the lead.

Key stat: The Curve blew a 7-2 lead.

How they scored

Bottom 1st: Naquin singled, scored on LaHair groundout (0-1).

Top 2nd: Curry walked, scored on Diaz two-run homer (2-1).

Top 3rd: Maggi doubled, scored on Rojas Jr. double (3-1).

Top 4th: Garcia solo homer (4-1); Broxton solo homer (5-1).

Bottom 5th: Smith singled, score don Naquin double (5-2).

Top 6th: Cunningham singled, scored on Broxton two-run homer (7-2).

Bottom 7th: Smith doubled, scored on Naquin double (7-3); LaHair double scored Naquin (7-4).

Bottom 8th: Rodriguez doubled, scored on Naquin fielder’s choice (7-5); Wolters hit by pitch, Holt walked, both scored along with Naquin on Lindor grand slam (7-9).