Rodriguez struggles for Curve

ERIE – Pirates pitcher Wandy Rodriguez struggled in a rehab start for the Curve on Thursday, and another Rodriguez – this one Joely – also had a tough time on the mound in the second game of a doubleheader.

Altoona was able to split the twinbill against Erie, winning the opener, 9-4, before falling in the second game, 5-2, at Jerry Uht Park.

Wandy Rodriguez, making his way back to the majors after a knee injury, gave up four runs – three earned – on four hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked three, struck out three and was lifted after throwing 74 pitches (48 strikes).

Had he pitched well with no pain, Rodriguez was expected to rejoin the Pirates. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle told reporters in Baltimore on Thursday that he wants to wait and see how Rodriguez feels today before making any decisions.

The Curve opened the first game in memorable, and historic, fashion as Alen Hanson homered, followed by another homer from Gift Ngoepe. It’s believed to be the first time in franchise history the Curve opened a game with back-to-back homers.

Rodriguez breezed through the first inning, retiring the side in order on 11 pitches. He was even better in a perfect second inning, in which he needed only eight pitches and struck out a pair.

The Curve also scored a run in the second and two more in the third, so Rodriguez took the mound in the bottom of the third with a 5-0 lead. That’s when Erie got to him, though, as Steven Moya led off with a double, then Francisco Martinez homered on a 3-0 pitch.

The SeaWolves scored two more runs charged to Rodriguez in the fourth. Ramon Cabrera opened with a single, then Wade Gaynor worked a walk. Cabrera later came home on an error by Hanson at shortstop, and Rodriguez was lifted with one out and runners at first and second.

A.J. Morris walked one, and with two outs, he walked in a run that was charged to Rodriguez.

The Curve offense fared much better than the major leaguer, though, as it continued to score while pounding 13 hits. Elias Diaz went 3-for-4 with two doubles to raise his average to .383, while Stetson Allie was 2-for-4 with two doubles.

Morris (1-0) won in relief, while Erie starter Kyle Ryan (2-3) got shelled for seven runs on 11 hits in five innings.

Joely Rodriguez (1-3) had a rough outing in the second game for the Curve, allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings. It raised the lefty’s ERA to 5.92.

Erie scored single runs in the second and third before adding three more in the fifth for a 5-1 lead. Gaynor homered twice for the SeaWolves, and reliever Pat McCoy (1-0) picked up the win.

Ngoepe and Drew Maggi had two hits apiece for the Curve in the second game.

SUBHD: Doubleheader recap

Key players: Curve C Elias Diaz went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the first game, while 1B Wade Gaynor was 2-for-3 with two homers and four RBIs and two runs in the second game.

Key plays: The Curve started the first game with back-to-back homers from SS Alen Hanson and 2B Gift Ngoepe.

Key stat: Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez gave up four runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings during a rehab start for the Curve.

SUBHD: How they scored

First game

Top 1st: Hanson solo homer (1-0); Ngoepe solo homer (2-0).

Top 2nd: Diaz doubled, scored on Broxton double play groundout (3-0).

Top 3rd: Allie doubled, scored on Rojas Jr. single (4-0); Garcia solo homer (5-0).

Bottom 3rd: Moya doubled, scored on Martinez two-run homer (5-2).

Bottom 4th: Cabrera singled, scored on Hanson error (5-3); Gaynor walked, scored on Krizan bases-loaded walk (5-4).

Top 5th: Rojas singled, Garcia walked, both scored on Diaz double (7-4).

Top 6th: Broxton reached on Martinez error, scored on Maggi single (8-4).

Top 7th: Allie doubled, scored on Garcia double play groundout (9-4).

Second game

Bottom 2nd: Gaynor solo homer (0-1).

Bottom 3rd: Albernaz singled, scored on Suarez single (0-2).

Top 5th: Maggi singled, scored on Ngoepe single (1-2).

Bottom 5th: Johnson singled, Suarez doubled, both scored on Gaynor three-run homer (1-5).

Top 6th: Rojas walked, scored on Howard sacrifice fly (2-5).