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June 22, 2007
LOUISVILLE—The road continues to be an unkind place for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The PawSox lost for the fourth time in five games on the current road trip, managing just four hits off Bobby Livingston in a 7-0 loss to Louisville in the first of a four-game series Friday night at Slugger Field. Livingston (3-4) pitched a complete game, striking out four and getting 18 ground ball outs for his third straight win.
The PawSox won at Indianapolis Thursday after dropping the first three games of that series, but they were unable to build any momentum against the Bats.
“Livingston did a fantastic job,” PawSox manager Ron Johnson said. “He totally shut down our offense. We didn’t do anything at all except for a couple of hits in the last inning. You have to just tip your hat to a guy when he pitches that well.”
PawSox starter Abe Alvarez presented a stark contrast to Livingston. Though he struck out a season-high eight batters, Alvarez struggled from the beginning, falling behind in the count to six of seven batters in the first inning.
Trouble began immediately for the lefty.
Jeff Keppinger, the International League’s leading hitter with a .372 average, doubled off the left field wall on the game’s first pitch. Pedro Lopez followed with a bunt single and Jesse Gutierrez walked to load the bases with one out. Mark Bellhorn then grounded a 2-0 pitch into left field plating two runs to put Louisville up 2-0.
The Bats scored a third run off Alvarez in the fourth when Jeff Bannon led off with a double and scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by Dan Conway.
Things could have been worse for Alvarez (4-6); while he surrendered nine hits and five earned runs, Alvarez struck out batters in key spots, escaping jams in the third and fifth with inning-ending punch outs.
Alvarez exited in the sixth inning after Mike Edwards singled and Chris Dickerson walked to open the inning. Both runners scored against reliever Mike Burns to make it 5-0. Alvarez labored, throwing 97 pitches, including 62 strikes.
“I didn’t think Abe pitched all that poorly,” Johnson said. “They got a couple of pretty well-placed ground balls, including that one by Bellhorn in the first and they tacked on some runs late.”
Meanwhile, Livingston silenced Pawtucket. The PawSox’s only hit through the first five innings was a second inning double by Brandon Moss with one-out. Livingston then retired 13 straight batters, with Jacob Ellsbury reaching on a bunt single with two out in the sixth. Livingston, who has two Major League starts and one win this season for Cincinnati, did not walk a batter for a third consecutive start. He has walked only 12 batters in 83.1 innings. In contrast to Alvarez, he threw an economical 104 pitches with 72 strikes.
Louisville, which had averaged two runs and eight hits on a just-completed eight-game road trip, got well against Pawtucket pitching, getting 13 hits, including two each from Keppinger, Lopez, Gutierrez and Joey Votto. Edwards led all batters, finishing 3-for-4 with an RBI.
In his first at-bat with Pawtucket, Bryan Pritz, who was called up from Portland Friday, singled off Livingston to begin the ninth, but was erased two pitches later when Joe McEwing grounded into a double play. Pritz replaced David Murphy who was recalled this week by the Red Sox. Pritz’s single was Pawtucket’s third hit. Bobby Scales singled with two out in the ninth for the fourth.
Slugger Field has never exactly been the friendly confines for Pawtucket; the PawSox are to 9-20 at the ballpark since it opened in 2000.
--JEFF ROBINSON (Special to the Journal)
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 10:07 PM to PawSox