Thunder erupt for 4 on Curve reliever

TRENTON, N.J. – The Curve had been red hot before heading to Trenton this week, but the Thunder have rolled over them two days in a row.

Trenton shelled Altoona reliever Joely Rodriguez for four runs in two innings to break open a tie game and went on to a 7-3 win Wednesday afternoon at Arm & Hammer Park. The Curve had won five in a row and nine of 10 before dropping the past two games.

Stetson Allie and Jarek Cunningham provided bright spots for the Curve, each belting a home run. Allie’s 16th long ball of the season was a two-run shot in the fourth that gave Altoona a 3-1 lead.

Allie is now tied with Willy Garcia for the team lead in home runs. Allie has continued to make strides at the plate as the season has worn on and is now batting .248 with 54 RBIs, a .349 on-base percentage and .785 OPS.

Cunningham’s homer, which made it 1-1 in the third inning, was his seventh of the season. Cunningham hit 19 homers last year, but his production has dropped off significantly as he has only 24 RBIs to go along with the seven long balls.

Curve pitchers had no answers for Trenton’s Gary Bird, who had a monster day as he went 4-for-4 with two homers, a double and three runs. Bird hit a solo homer in the first and another in the sixth, which tied the game at 3-3. He later doubled and scored in the eighth as the Thunder scored twice for a 7-3 lead.

It had been a 3-3 game until Trenton brought home a pair of runs in the seventh off Rodriguez. Jake Cave tripled home the go-ahead run for a 4-3 lead, then came home on a double by Gary Sanchez.

Rodriguez (4-10) fell into double digits in the loss column as he dropped his fourth consecutive decision and sixth out of his past seven. He had been in the starting rotation most of the season until moving to the bullpen three weeks ago.

Jacob Lindgren (1-0) won in relief for Trenton, which is only two games below .500 for the season but surprisingly has a losing record at home (29-31).

Game recap

Key player: Trenton 1B Greg Bird went 4-for-4 with two homers, a double, two RBIs and three runs.

Key play: An RBI triple by CF Jake Cave, who also later scored, gave the Thunder the lead for good in the seventh inning.

Key stat: LHP Joely Rodriguez, a member of the Pirates’ 40-man roster, suffered his 10th loss as he gave up four runs in two innings of relief.

How they scored

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

Top 3rd: Cunningham solo homer (1-1).

Top 4th: Bell singled, scored on Allie two-run homer (3-1).

Bottom 5th: Castillo walked, scored on Gamel single (3-2).

Bottom 6th: Bird solo homer (3-3).

Bottom 7th: Stevenson singled, scored on Cave triple (3-4); Sanchez double scored Cave (3-5).

Bottom 8th: Bird doubled, scored on Arcia single (3-6); Fiorito singled, scored on Stevenson groundout (3-7).