06/16/04 — K-Tribe loses third straight game

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K-Tribe loses third straight game

Published in Sports on June 16, 2004 1:55 PM

KINSTON -- A pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning proved to be the difference as Lynchburg defeated Kinston 4-2 in the opener of a four-game series Tuesday night at historic Grainger Stadium.

However, the Salem Avalanche helped cushion by beating Myrtle Beach 7-6 in Salem. That keeps Kinston's four-game lead on the Pelicans intact, while lowering the Tribe's magic number to three. Lynchburg (32-32) stayed 1 1/2 games back of Potomac in the race for first in the North Division, while the Indians (42-21) have matched a season high with three straight losses.

Lynchburg started lefty Zach Duke, who had allowed just one unearned run in 13 innings of work against Kinston this year. But the Indians matched that offensive output in the bottom of the first.

Eider Torres reached on an error and then stole second and third to put himself 90 feet away with two away and Michael Aubrey at the plate. Duke had previously struck out Nathan Panther and Shaun Larkin on curveballs, but went back to the well once too often against Aubrey. With the count 2-2, Aubrey waited back on another curve and bounced back up the middle for his league-leading 55th RBI and a 1-0 Indians lead.

The Hillcats answered with single runs in the third and fourth, however, and took the lead for good in the fifth when they took advantage of two Kinston errors.

Consecutive singles from Jorge Cortes and Brad Eldred put men on first and second with one out, and Torres then threw wildly to first to load the bases. Vic Buttler then grounded one to Aubrey, who appeared to simply try to make a play before he had the ball. As a result, the ball slipped past Aubrey and into right field, allowing Cortes and Eldred to both score for a 4-1 lead.

Kinston got a run back on Panther's RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, but Cortes threw out Anthony Lunetta at the plate trying to score from second. The Indians never got another runner past second base the rest of the way.

Duke got the win and became the Carolina League's first nine-game winner, moving to 9-2. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings.

J.D. Martin (5-6) suffered a tough loss for Kinston. He gave up four runs (two earned) and seven hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out six. Henry Owens recorded the final six outs and earned his second save for Lynchburg.

The teams play a doubleheader today beginning at 6 p.m.