Less than 24 hours had passed since Eric Glaser pitched the South Atlantic League's second no-hitter this season, when the guy who tossed the league's first no-no worked another gem Saturday night.
Asheville right-hander Julio de Paula turned in his best outing since throwing a no-hitter against the Cape Fear Crocs on June 26, as he pitched seven masterful innings to defeat the GreenJackets 6-1 in the opener of a four-game series at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
The 21-year-old Dominican allowed one run and four hits in seven innings while striking out 11, cooling off the surging GreenJackets' bats and snap the club's four-game winning streak.
After completing a convincing four-game sweep the Hagerstown Suns on Friday with Glaser pitching the first nine-inning no-hitter in Augusta franchise history, the Jackets were poised for a letdown.
Luis Garcia belted his team-leading 19th home run of the season, a solo shot to left field in the second inning, but that was the only noise the Jackets could muster.
After the Garcia blast, de Paula was in control the rest of the way, picking up the victory to improve to 7-12.
"We weren't expecting to have a letdown with the way things have been going for this club," said Jackets center fielder Lew Ford, who entered the game third in the race for the SAL batting title, but went 0-for-4 Saturday to drop his average to .327.
"We've been winning a lot of games lately and you expect to keep that going," said Ford, who was named SAL hitter of the week last week, but has just one hit in his past 13 at-bats. "We didn't expect to play like this."
The Jackets scored 24 runs and banged out 29 hits in the four games against the Suns, but managed only one run and four hits against de Paula and reliever Colin Young, who finished up with two perfect innings out of the bullpen.
Following Glaser's historic performance on Friday, Augusta starter Brad Baker was behind the 8-ball from the start.
Before long, it was clear that his command had abandoned him.
The supplemental first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1999 has been the Jackets' top starter this season and has emerged as one of the top young pitching prospects in baseball.
But he struggled from the outset and took the loss to fall to 11-6.
Baker lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and three hits while walking five Tourists.
"I tried to go out and pitch a normal game, but it so happens I didn't have the control," Baker said. "That's been a problem for me lately, but it's something I know that I can work on. It's all about my approach. You hate when the team loses, but I think I should be fine."
The loss was only Augusta's second in the past 11 games and it ended a 10-game winning streak at home.
More importantly, the Jackets blew their chance to take over first place in the Southern Division second-half race. They entered the night one-half game behind the Savannah Sand Gnats, who fell Saturday night at home to Hagerstown.
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