Following a 44-minute rain delay, the rust was evident early for Aeros starting pitcher Matt Packer, but the Aeros held on for a 4-1 Eastern League win over the Altoona Curve in the first seven-inning game of a doubleheader at Canal Park on Friday.
The second game was postponed by rain and will be made up as part of a doubleheader today starting at 5:35 p.m.
Packer walked the leadoff man on five pitches, gave up two singles and hit the next batter to put the Aeros (38-41) in an early 1-0 hole.
However, he limited the damage by striking out the next batter and inducing an inning-ending double play.
Packer cruised from that point on, throwing five scoreless innings with three strikeouts and two walks, allowing just two more hits.
Packer became more efficient as the game went on, lowering his pitch count (20, 18, 15, 14, 11, 9) every inning.
He improved to 6-5 with the victory and has now allowed two earned runs in his past 24⅓ innings of work.
After facing Pittsburgh Pirates’ top prospect Jameson Taillon the previous night, the Aeros had an easier matchup in David Bromberg, though he was effective before faltering in his final inning (the fifth) when the Aeros strung together a two-out rally to take the lead.
The Aeros loaded the bases in the second inning after Carlos Moncrief and Adam Abraham led off with singles and Jake Lowery reached on an error.
Leadoff hitter Jose Ramirez drew a walk to bring in Moncrief and tie the score 1-1.
In the fourth inning, a base-running blunder by the Aeros potentially cost them more runs in the tie game.
Abraham led off with a walk, but was thrown out trying to steal second by several steps in what appeared to be a miscommunication of signs.
No matter. The Aeros put together a three-run rally after two were out in the fifth inning to take the lead for good.
Cedric Hunter started the rally by hitting a hard line drive off the right-field wall that barely missed getting out of the park and resulted in a double.
Jesus Aguilar was then hit by a pitch before Moncrief hit a ball right down the first-base line that caromed off the wall in foul territory and kicked around long enough for the 250-pound Aguilar to score from first base.
Moncrief scored when Abraham singled up the middle to make it 4-1.
Aeros closer Jose Flores made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two singles and a walk before getting Gregory Polanco, the Pirates’ top offensive prospect at the Double-A level, to pop out to end the game.
The save was Flores’ ninth of the season.
Bromberg fell to 3-8 with the loss for the Curve (34-45).
Moncrief finished 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored and Abraham reached base all three times with two singles, a walk and an RBI.
Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros.