Curve start second half with 4th straight win

ERIE — The Curve picked up where they left off from before the Eastern League All-Star break by continuing their red-hot play Thursday night.

Altoona led a tight game throughout, then poured it on with five runs in the ninth inning for a 10-2 win over Erie at UPMC Park. The Curve have won four in a row and are seven games above .500, matching their season high.

Stephen Alemais went 3-for-4, while Cole Tucker and Logan Hill had two hits apiece to pace a 12-hit Curve attack. Altoona took the lead for good, 2-1, on an RBI double by Christian Kelley in the second inning.

It was 3-2 in the seventh when Tucker brought home Tyler Gaffney with a sacrifice fly. The Curve added another run in the eighth when Will Craig was hit by a pitch and came home on a groundout by Bralin Jackson to make it 5-2.

Erie fell apart in the ninth inning as it hit two Curve batters and committed an error to allow the visitors to score five times. Alfredo Reyes had a two-run double, then Hill finished off the scoring with a two-run single.

Eduardo Vera (2-3) pitched six solid innings to earn the win, giving up two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Liarvis Breto (2-2) gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings to take the loss.

The Curve are in second place in the Western Division, 3 ¢ games behind Akron and 1 ¢ games ahead of Harrisburg. Altoona didn’t pick up a game on either team Thursday, but it did gain a game on fourth-place Richmond, leading the Flying Squirrels now by 4 ¢ games.

That last part is important because it appears for now that it could be turning into a three-team race for two playoff spots in the division.

SUBHD: Game recap

Key player: SS Cole Tucker went 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs and an RBI.

Key play: Tucker’s sacrifice fly scored RF Tyler Gaffney in the seventh for some breathing room with a 4-2 lead.

Key stat: The Curve have won four in a row and are seven games over .500 to match their highest point of the year.

SUBHD: How they scored

Top 1st: Alemais doubled, scored on Reynolds sacrifice fly (1-0).

Bottom 1st: Woodrow singled, scored on Lester sacrifice fly (1-1).

Top 2nd: Jackson doubled, scored on Kelley double (2-1).

Top 5th: Tucker doubled, scored on Alemais single (3-1).

Bottom 6th: Eaves doubled, scored on Maddox double (3-2).

Top 7th: Gaffney singled, scored on Tucker sacrifice fly (4-2).

Top 8th: Craig hit by pitch, scored on Jackson groundout (5-2).

Top 9th: Gaffney hit by pitch, scored on Maddox error that allowed Craig to reach (6-2); Tucker walked, Alemais walked, both scored on Reyes double (8-2); Hill single scored Craig and Reyes (10-2).