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Alvarez’s homers only offense for Curve

Next stop

Tonight: Akron at Altoona, 6 p.m.

Pitchers: Curve RHP Luis Ortiz vs. Ducks LHP Jaime Arias

Record: 14-14

Radio: WRTA-AM 1240 & 98.5-FM

By Cory Giger

sports@altoonamirror.com

The last time the Curve played at home, everything was going great for the team.

Two weeks later, things couldn’t be going much worse.

Altoona fell for the eighth time in 10 games Tuesday night, 5-2, against Akron at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The Curve got off to a strong start in the second half at 12-6 before the All-Star break, but things have gone downhill since then.

“It’s been rough the last couple series,” infielder Andres Alvarez said. “But we’re sticking together, and we battle together on ups and downs.”

Alvarez had a great game Tuesday, belting a pair of solo homers to give him 17 on the season, which is second on the club. Alvarez, who went 3-for-4, added it was the first time he can remember a multi-homer game since “maybe going back to Little League.”

But the rest of the Curve offense didn’t do much on the night, collectively getting shut out.

Tough stretch

The Curve lost their first two games after the All-Star break at Harrisburg. Then things turned ugly with a rough series at Bowie, which has an explosive offense and pounded Curve pitching in winning five of six last week.

“I feel like every mistake we’re making is getting compounded with multiple runs,” manager Kieran Mattison said. “And then when we get runners in scoring position, we have to capitalize offensively. Because if you spot them runs and you don’t cash in when you get your chances, the game gets a lot harder.

“Right now, I feel like we’re just making the game harder than it needs to be.”

Akron scored four runs in the third inning and cruised from there Tuesday night.

“The things that we can control, we’re just not being really good at it right now,” Mattison said. “What I mean by that is, when we need to make the routine play, we may fumble it. … A lot of self-inflicted mistakes.

“I think we lack confidence in those moments,” he added, “and guys are pressing a little bit and trying to force things instead of just playing the game one pitch at a time and trying to find a way to mentally relax.”

SUBHD: Simplify things

Mattison made a point of saying some of the players are just trying to do too much, such as “trying to make the spectacular play or perfect pitch or bigger swing than what needs to be done.”

“(We should) kind of take a step back, kind of take a deep breath in those moments, and I think we’ll get back to playing winning baseball again,” the manager said.

SUBHD: Personnel report

The Pirates acquired corner infielder Malcom Nunez in the Jose Quintana trade with the Cardinals late Monday, and Nunez was assigned to Altoona. He’ll join the active roster in the coming days.

Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said over the weekend that he’s hopeful catcher Henry Davis (wrist) and Nick Gonzales (foot) will be able to play again this season. Both have missed significant time because of injuries.

SUBHD: Stats and stuff

Curve starter Aaron Shortridge (0-2) took the loss, allowing four runs in 2 2/3 innings. The bullpen held Akron to one run the rest of the way.

Manuel Alvarez (2-3) won in relief for Akron, while Thomas Ponticelli got his second save.

There still has never been a Curve player with three homers in a game. Alvarez had a chance to become the first in the ninth inning but lined out to left.

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