Wings Bullpen Falters as Lehigh Valley Rallies

Steve Susdorf had three hits and four RBI, helping the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to a 5-4 comeback win over the Red Wings Sunday afternoon at Frontier Field. A Father's Day crowd of 10,354 enjoyed a sun-splashed day at the ballpark. 

The Pawtucket Red Sox - with rehabbing Boston players Shane Victorino, Clay Buchholz and Will Middlebrooks - come to town for a four-game series that begins Monday night at 7:05 p.m.

Red Wings left-hander Kris Johnson came into Sunday's start with a 6-3 record and 2.42 ERA - that included a 3-0 mark and 0.00 ERA in his three starts at Frontier Field. But the IronPigs went right after Johnson's clean home worksheet in the first inning.

Lead-off hitter Leandro Castro reached first on an error charged to Chris Colabello, and Johnson fanned the next batter for the first out. A single and walk followed to load the bases, but James Beresford started an inning-ending double play on Maikel Franco's groundball, and the Wings escaped the jam.

Side-arming lefty Greg Smith started for the IronPigs, and allowed just a single to Deibinson Romero in the Red Wings first. Romero now has a hit in 16 of his last 19 games.

The Wings put together a scoring opportunity of their own in the second inning, after Josmil Pinto singled and Wilkin Ramirez doubled. After Chris Herrmann grounded out, Doug Bernier drilled a 3-2 pitch down the left field line for a two-run double, putting the Wings ahead 2-0; Bernier's .341 batting average with runners in scoring position was tops on the team coming into play Sunday.

Johnson worked around baserunners in each of the first three innings. In the IronPigs fourth, Steve Susdorf hit his first home run of the season. The two-run shot tied the score at 2-2.

Through five innings, each starter had recorded only one inning in which they retired the side in order. Johnson had thrown 78 pitches through five innings, while Smith had thrown 77.

Johnson walked Jim Murphy to open the sixth inning, and two batters later Susdorf delivered a two-out double to right that gave the IronPigs a 3-2 lead. That brought an end to Johnson's outing, with Ryan Pressly coming on to get a strikeout to end the half inning. Johnson worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed five hits, three earned runs and three walks. Johnson struck out three and threw 96 pitches, 56 for strikes.

The Wings came right back against Smith. Colabello singled, and Pinto followed with a double to put runners at second and third with none out. That prompted a pitching change, and Phillippe Aumont (2-1) took over on the mound. Ramirez grounded out, but Chris Herrmann's flyball to the warning track in left field brought home Colabello to tie the score at 3-3. Pinto also tagged and moved up to third base on the play; Pinto's hustle paid off when Bernier delivered a single to right, putting the Wings back ahead 4-3.

Smith worked 5+ innings, giving up eight hits and four earned runs with a walk and a strikeout. Smith threw 80 pitches, 49 for strikes.

The IronPigs put the tying run at second with none out in the top of the eighth inning, when Ramirez dropped Cam Perkins' flyball after a long running attempt at a catch. Pressly struck out clean-up hitter Murphy, but Maikel Franco's double brought in Perkins to tie the game at 4-4. Pressly notched another strikeout for out number two, but Susdorf's third hit of the day scored Franco and the IronPigs led 5-4.

Pressly (0-2) struck out four in 2 1/3 innings, with both runs unearned. Michael Tonkin worked the ninth for the Red Wings, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

Lehigh Valley closer Luis Garcia, who had not allowed an earned run in 17 2/3 innings this season, allowed a single to Bernier to begin the Wings' half of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Daniel Ortiz flew out, and pinch-hitter Brad Nelson clubbed a double that put runners at second and third with one out. Garcia walked Beresford intentionally to load the bases and set up a force play at any base, with Romero coming up next. Romero struck out swinging for the second out, and Perkins tracked down Colabello's long fly to the right field corner to end the game. Garcia recorded his ninth save.

The Wings out-hit the IronPigs 12-7.

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