A quality win with strong pitching and clutch hitting gave way to a lesser effort in the Augusta GreenJackets’ doubleheader split with the Rome Braves tonight at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
The GreenJackets took the opener 5-1 but lost 4-3 in Game 2 on an infield error and sloppy base running. Manager Lipso Nava said he was pleased overall for a team that will play five games in a three-day span.
“It was good pitching-wise and offensively we were clutch in the first game,” Augusta manager Lipso Nava said. “I know these doubleheaders are going to take its toll on the players, but that’s why we’re here. This is baseball.”
Clayton Blackburn won his third consecutive decision and Brett Krill continued his dominance at the plate in Game 1.
Blackburn, who nearly threw a no hitter two weeks ago and came to within an out of a complete game shutout last week, allowed just one run on two hits in six innings. He gave up a run in the first inning on Robby Hefflinger’s two-out single with a runner at third, but shutout the Braves (18-47) the rest of the way, retiring 15 of the final 16 batters he faced to improve to 3-2.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Blackburn said. “I gave up a two-out hit there that cost me a little bit, but after that I felt like I settled down.”
Reliever Cody Hall, making his first appearance since spending two weeks on the disabled list with a strained oblique, threw a perfect ninth on just 10 pitches to seal the win.
The GreenJackets (28-35) continued the offensive surge that gave them two wins in three games over the weekend in Rome. Krill, who went 5 for 6 with seven RBI in Sunday’s 19-7 win, drove in two runs, including an RBI grounder to short in a two-run fourth and an RBI triple in the sixth.
Rome starter David Filak, the Braves’ fourth-round pick in 2010, went all six innings and gave up five runs, two earned, on seven hits to fall to 3-6.
The momentum gained from Augusta’s sixth win in seven games didn’t carry over into Game 2. The GreenJackets fell behind early when a two-out error by third baseman Jose Flores kept the inning going long enough for William Beckwith’s double to the wall in right field to give Rome a 2-0 lead.
Augusta had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the inning but only got one run after Joe Staley stopped at third base on a Shawn Payne single that should have scored Staley easily from second. Payne was thrown out on the play trying to stretch the hit into a double.
“It was basically a case of miscommunication,” Staley said. “Lipso was waving me home and then at the last second I saw his hands go up for (Jesus) Galindo behind me.”
Staley recovered with a pair of singles in his next two at bats, but the rest of the team couldn’t muster a comeback after Rome extended its lead with a two-run fourth.
Wes Hodges hit his second homer in three nights to lead off Augusta’s half of the fourth, and back-to-back singles from Jose Cuevas and Staley led to another run.
But the GreenJackets failed to produce any more offense, managing just one hit over the final three innings.
Augusta’s Game 2 starter Chris Marlowe (1-3) allowed four runs, one earned, on five hits and a walk. He struck out four and suffered his second loss in three starts.
Reliever Paul Davis walked a batter in the sixth and gave up two runs in the seventh but kept Augusta in the game with two scoreless innings.
Rome’s Game 2 starter Ryan Weber (2-2) lasted five innings and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out seven. John Cornely got the save.