CONNECTICUT DEFENDERS 4, AKRON AEROS 3
KEY STATS: Akron and Connecticut represent the the top two teams in the Eastern League as the Aeros entered Tuesday's action leading the Southern Division with 68-41 mark and a seven-game lead over second-place Reading. The Northern Division-leading Defenders were 63-45 with a 10-game lead over second-place Trenton...The loss snapped the Aeros season-high tying seven-game winning streak...The Defenders left 12 men on base and went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position. The Aeros weren't much better, however, stranding 11 runners and going 2-for-10 with RISP.
KEY MOMENTS: The Aeros entered the ninth inning trailing 4-2 and quickly pulled within a run when Carlos Rivero led off with a double and scored on Jose Constanza's ground out to make it 4-3. The game appeared to be over when Jesus Merchan grounded out to to short with two outs, but he ended up reaching safely on a throwing error. Then Nick Weglarz and Carlos Santana walked to load the bases for Beau Mills, who struck out swinging to end the game.
STORM'S STARS: Aeros C Carlos Santana increased his hitting streak to 12 games with a third-inning single...Merchan 3-for-4 with a walk... Constanza was on base three times, scored two runs, walked twice and drove in a ninth-inning run.
NOTES: Among the crowd of 3,867 that took in Tuesday's game at Canal Park sat embattled Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, who watched the action along with his son Caden from behind home plate for the first time this season.
Shapiro's visits to Canal Park have been few and far between the last couple years, but his recent spate of trades that sent perennial All-Star catcher Victor Martinez to Boston and reigning Cy Young award winning pitcher Cliff Lee to Philadelphia have left little to watch in Cleveland. Besides, with Tribe pitcher Jake Westbrook on a rehab assignment and newcomer Connor Graham (picked up in the Rafael Betancourt trade to Colorado) pitching, a visit to Akron provided Shapiro a rare two-for-one deal. Not to mention a relatively safe place to watch a game in public.
*Westbrook, on his third rehab appearance for the Aeros this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, allowed two runs on four hits - including a two-run home run in two innings of work. The 31-year old was expected to go three innings or 50 pitches and ended up throwing 42 pitches in two innings.
"When he threw 32 (pitches) in the first inning, we had a feeling he would only go two," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "That was a lot of pitches to go through in the first."
After his short stint, Westbrook said he felt good.
"I felt a lot better than the last time I was here," he said. "A lot better...Last time (my elbow) was kind of bugging me the whole game. It was one of those things I was just pitching through. Tonight was a lot better."
* Just before Tuesday's game got underway, Connecticut pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner was deluged in the stands for autograph requests as he tried to settle into his seat to chart pitches during the game.
Bumgarner, who just turned 21 on Aug. 1, is San Francisco's No. 1 prospect entering the season as ranked by Baseball America.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-hander was the Giants No.1 pick (10th overall) in the 2007 draft and is 7-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) with the Defenders.
UP NEXT: The Aeros continue this six-game home stand against visiting Connecticut (San Francisco Giants) tonight at Canal Park at 7:05 p.m. Aeros right-hander Josh Tomlin (10-8, 4.18 ERA) and Defenders left-hander Jesse English (7-6, 3.53 ERA) are the scheduled pitchers.
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