There is no solace for Paul Stabile in being the best losing pitcher in the South Atlantic League. There is, of course, a sense of satisfaction when the stuff is working and he hits his spots. But there will always be that burning from within that makes him want to win.
And for the first time in more than a month, the GreenJackets left-hander had it all. Stuff, control and a victory. Stabile was in command, tossing six strong innings in the Jackets' 3-2 win over the Greensboro Bats before 1,362 fans Sunday evening at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
For the 22-year-old, it was his first win since June 10 and only his second victory since May 7, and it gave the Southern Division-leading Jackets (19-12) a split in the four-game series with the Central Division-leading Bats (19-12).
"It was starting to get a little ridiculous," Stabile said of his drought. "Obviously the goal is to pitch well and get better as the season goes on but you still want to compete and win. And you want to have a winning record because people might think differently about you if you lose a lot of games."
The 6-foot New Yorker cruised through the first four innings retiring 12 of the first 14 batters he faced. Aside from a one-out double to Scott Kidd in the first inning and a one-out walk in the second inning, Greensboro struggled against Stabile's mix of fastballs and off-speed pitches.
In the 95-degree heat, Stabile wilted in the fifth. He allowed a run on three singles and two more hits in the sixth including an RBI-double by Scott Seabol that made it 3-2.
That's where the bullpen picked him up. Relievers Chuck Bauer, Wilson Guzman and O.J. Cook threw three innings of shutout ball to seal it for Stabile. Cook gave up the only Bats hit after the sixth inning but struck out the side in the ninth for his 14th save.
"He tired a bit in the fifth, but Paul was great tonight," said manager Marty Brown, as the Jackets won for only the third time in their last eight games. "It's nice to get him a win. Paul has handled that (his winless streak) well. He's a competitor but realizes he's here from a development standpoint. He has always been dedicated to that more than wins and losses."
Throwing 79 pitches, Stabile surpassed the 100-inning plateau (105 1/3 ) for the season and lowered his ERA to 3.85. Opposing hitters are now batting just .204 against him, and his 105 strikeouts is good for seventh best in the league.
Greensboro starter Randy Flores (7-6) was equally strong in defeat, allowing two earned runs in seven innings, scattering nine hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
The Jackets finally showed some support for Stabile -- in his seven losses, the offense averaged 2.8 runs -- with timely hitting Sunday. They scored once in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by E.D. Johnson and twice in the fourth on an RBI-double by Derrick Lankford and an RBI-single by Bo Hundt in the fourth.
"The first four innings was great but then I don't know what happened after that,' said Stabile, an SAL All-Star despite his losing mark. "But the best thing is that I'm learning how to work my way out of jams. As the year goes on, it's more than just going out there and relying on my stuff. I'm learning how to pitch."
Greensboro -- 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 -- 2
Augusta -- 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 x -- 3
E -- Kidd (19), Carey (1), Flores, Wallace. DP -- Greensboro 2, Augusta 1. LOB -- Greensboro 6, Augusta 5. 2B -- Kidd (19), Seabol (6), DeHaan (26), Lankford (15). SB -- Hundt (2). CS -- Mejias (1).