PORT CHARLOTTE – Kevin Padlo hit a sixth-inning solo home run to break a tie, and nine-hole batter David Rodriguez helped give the Charlotte Stone Crabs a cushion as they beat Dunedin 5-2 Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park, pushing them above .500 for the second half.
By Chuck Ballaro, SunCoast Sports
Behind a strong outing by Eduar Lopez, Charlotte had one of its best defensive games of the season, playing errorless ball while converting three double plays as opposed to Dunedin, which committed four errors.
“They’re a really good hitting team. When they got something going we were able to get them a double play,” Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said. “We got a really big 5-4-3 double play in the eighth playing no doubles. Eduar did a great job to get the ground balls when we needed them.”
The Stone Crabs took a 1-0 lead in the third on an Angel Moreno RBI double off Dunedin starter Josh DeGraaf, and extended the lead to 2-0 in the fourth on a Nate Lowe sacrifice fly.
Lopez, who came in relief in the second after Diego Moreno, on rehab assignment for the Rays, started the game, had a strong performance, going six innings with two runs on six hits, two walks and two strikeouts in getting his seventh win.
Lopez also benefitted from a strong defensive performance as Charlotte backed him up with two inning-ending double plays.
“He pitched to contact, and whenever your starter can give you six innings, it’s a good start,” Johns said.
His only trouble came in the fifth, when Kavan Biggio tied the game with a two-run double.
DeGraaf also pitched well, striking out four in 5 1/3 innings, but the pitch he likely wanted back was his last one that Padlo hit into the left field bullpen to break the tie and send DeGraaf to the showers with his first loss of the season.
Charlotte padded its lead in the eighth off Adonys Cardona with Rodriguez’s two-run single.
Michael Velasquez and Dalton Moats each pitched scoreless innings to ice the game, while Moreno looked strong, making up for two wild pitches with two strikeouts in the first inning.
Max Pentecost and J.C. Cardenas had two hits for Dunedin.
Alec Sole and Angel Moreno had two hits, and David Olmedo-Barrera scored twice for Charlotte, which got production throughout the batting order.
“It was a good team win. We had a lot of clutch hitting. It was a fun game,” Johns said.