Carl Crawford had three hits and four stolen bases to terrorize the Luchadores, spooking the already-snakebit Alfonso Soriano and triggering a five-run sixth against Derek Lowe (7-8, 3.89). Crawford singled to lead off the inning and promptly stole second and third on successive pitches. Soriano then bobbled Derek Jeter’s ground ball, Crawford scoring and Jeter safe at first. With Grady Sizemore batting, the Luchadores had Jeter picked off but failed to execute, Jeter winding up at second. With the defense wobbly, Sizemore, Garciaparra and Rios all hit doubles in the inning, knocking Lowe out of the game.
All of this basepath terrorism benefitted the mystifying Jeremy Sowers(9-7, 5.46), pitched his best game in months, surviving three early runs, only to watch the Luchadores storm back and score four times in the ninth and leave them loaded, with Brad Lidge earning his third save by fanning pinch-hitter Kevin Youkilis. Sowers, with his extreme tendency to nibble, has a charmed life: still in the Eliminators rotation despite leading the league in walks (84), many of them self-inflicted—intentional or ‘semi-intentional.’ But, to his credit, Sowers has as many double plays behind him as intentional walks (18). But how long can this go on? Insiders predict that Sowers is just a few bad outings from losing his starting role.
Speaking of which, how long will Las Vegas stick with Soriano, who is struggling at second and now leads all of BARB with 29 errors? With J.J. Hardy dealt away, the Luchadores will probably have to pursue a trade for a middle infielder if they decide to move the slugging Soriano to the outfield. That carries other headaches with it, of course: Las Vegas is loaded in the outfield with Matt Holliday, Carlos Lee, Gary Matthews, Manny Ramirez and (when healthy) Moises Alou.
At any rate, the Elims stopped a modest three-game losing streak and took a half-game (53-36) lead on the Finches to regain the top spot in the volatile Eastern Division. In other BARB news:
DARWIN 6, OAKEYLAND 2
WP: Kelvim Escobar (10-3, 3.69)
LP: Boof Bonser (0-2, 6.75)
David Ortiz tied the game with a solo homer (his 28th) in the fourth, and then doubled with the bases loaded as part of a five-run eighth, handing a win to Escobar, who became the first Finches hurler with wins in double figures. Andre Ethier hit a solo homer to give the Ballers a 2-1 lead in the sixth, lifting his average to a season-high .285.
BLACK MESA 5, ARIZONA 0
WP: Jon Garland (7-6, 3.57)
LP: Cole Hamels (4-6, 5.94)
What a duel! Cole Hamels took a shutout into the seventh and only gave up two runs over eight frames, but veteran Jon Garland was better, holding the D-Backs in check all the way on just two hits (J.D. Drew and rookie Delmon Young), while batterymate Paul LoDuca drove in three runs on an RBI single and a two-run double to lead the Anomalies over host Arizona.
S-MART 13, FROSTBITE FALLS 3
WP: Fernando Rodney (5-5, 3.50)
LP: Tim Wakefield (3-6, 5.45)
Alex Rodriguez singled home the go-ahead run in the fifth, and drew one of four walks off Scott Linebrink with his club already up a run to set up Edwin Encarnacion’s grand slam, as the Boom Sticks scored seven times in the eighth to pummel the host Squirrels, dropping the defending champs to their 10th loss in their last 14 games and a 47-43 overall mark.
SAN JOSE 5, YUMA 1
WP: Aaron Harang (6-7, 4.62)
LP: Roy Halladay (8-5, 3.70)
Johnny Damon homered leading off the third to give the Rockets an early lead, and would add two more safeties later on to back Aaron Harang, who made the runs stand up with eight strong innings, fanning eight Firebirds. As for Yuma, they’ve been ordinary of late (splitting their last 12 games), but they remained well atop the West with a 52-35 record.