Augusta GreenJackets starter Chris Stratton failed to reach his career-high 11 strikeouts set against the Hagerstown Suns in his last outing, but he came close to reaching double digits again Thursday.
Despite Stratton’s eight strikeouts, he received little run support for the second consecutive start, as the GreenJackets fell to the Suns 3-2 at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Stratton worked around a hit and walk to strike out the side in the first. He lost his fastball command in the second, resulting in three runs on a two-run single by Tony Renda and RBI double by Wander Ramos. For the second consecutive game, Augusta (16-10) fell victim to one inning of trouble.
“That’s been the motto so far (in the series),” manager Mike Goff said. “They’ve jumped out early, put a crooked number on us, and we just aren’t swinging the bat well enough to get back in the ballgame right now.”
Stratton rebounded by allowing just one hit over the next four scoreless innings, leading to three runs on five hits in six innings, walking three. The 2012 first-round pick allowed four runs on two hits and three walks in six innings in a 4-0 loss to Hagerstown last time out.
“Last time I faced them, I walked a few guys there, too, just not getting the ball down,” Stratton said. “I just have to work on (fastball location).”
The GreenJackets were unable to solve Hagerstown (15-11) starter Pedro Encarnacion, who allowed three hits over six shutout innings, walking one and striking out three.
Encarnacion, who allowed three unearned runs in 3⅓ innings against Augusta last time out, relied on fly balls, recording six to four ground balls and one line drive.
The GreenJackets scored their first run in the seventh on a fielder’s choice RBI by Charles Jones. The second run came on a solo home run by Eric Sim in the ninth, the first long ball at Lake Olmstead this season.
Renda went 3 for 4 with a walk and two RBI for the Suns. Ramos went 1 for 4 with a double and RBI.