INDIANAPOLIS (IndyIndians.com) - Stifling heat and a change of scenery did not deter Pawtucket starter Nelson Figueroa on Wednesday afternoon as the right-hander led the Triple-A Red Sox to a 4-2 win over the Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field.
Figueroa, who went 7-2 with a 3.47 ERA in 17 appearances for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees this season and was making his debut for Pawtucket, tossed five effective innings to pick up the win against one of his many former clubs. The journeyman made three starts for Indianapolis last season and also pitched for the Tribe in 2002, when he went 5-0 in six starts.
The double play proved to be Figueroa's best friend early in the game as the Red Sox turned twin killings in each of the first two innings, a 5-4-3 in the first and a less-traditional 7-6-3 job in the second inning. By the end of the fourth, Figueroa had faced just one over the minimum. He then worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the bottom of the fourth by picking up a big strikeout and inducing a flyout to end the inning.
The Indians finally broke through on Figueroa (5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) in the bottom of the sixth inning, halving the Pawtucket lead to 4-2. 2B Anderson Hernandez and CF Jose Tabata lead off the frame with back-to-back singles before Hernandez scored on a sharp line drive double to left field by LF Starling Marte.
The double, Marte's 21st of the season, chased Figueroa. It was cut off quickly by Pawtucket LF Scott Podsednik, holding Tabata at third, but Tabata then scored when DH Matt Hague bounced into a fielders choice as Red Sox SS Jose Iglesias made a heads-up play to cut down Marte at third base.
Pawtucket had provided Figueroa with the necessary run support by scoring a single run in each of the first four innings. CF Ryan Kalish led off the ballgame with a double that bounced high in the air and into shallow right field after striking the first base bag, stole third base and immediately scored on a single to left by Iglesias.
In the second inning, Podesdnik reached base on a fielding error and moved to second when C Mike Rivera was hit by a pitch. Rivera stayed in the game to run the bases, but would later leave the game with an apparent wrist injury. Podsednik scored the second run of the game when 2B Nate Spears laid down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by RHP Rick VandenHurk, who tried to force Podsednik out at third but threw the ball wildly into left field.
Pawtucket 3B Andy LaRoche scored the third run of the game after hitting a one-out double in the third and eventually scored on a sac fly by Podsednik. Spears punctuated the Pawtucket offensive with a solo home run deep beyond the right-field fence to lead off the fourth inning, his eighth longball of the season.
VandenHurk (6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HR) recorded eight strikeouts to tie a season-high in his six-inning effort, but was saddled with his second-straight loss and third in four games, falling to 9-3 on the season. Out of the Tribe bullpen, newcomer Logan Kensing (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 K) allowed a pair of hits and recorded a pair of strikeouts in his Indianapolis debut, before RHP Jose Diaz (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) struck out one in a scoreless ninth.
The Indians (65-41) have not announced a starter for game three of the series against Pawtucket (59-47) on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. LHP Rudy Owens, who went 8-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 19 starts for Indianapolis, had been scheduled to make the start before being traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday to the Houston Astros. For the Red Sox, RHP Tony Pena, Jr., (1-8, 5.71 ERA) is expected to make the start on Thursday night.