Biloxi Shuckers

Birmingham smashes Shuckers

 Biloxi third baseman Nathan Orf tags Birmingham's Eudy Pina out, Monday, June 13, 2006.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Biloxi third baseman Nathan Orf tags Birmingham's Eudy Pina out, Monday, June 13, 2006.

BILOXI -- Monday night's game got away from the Biloxi Shuckers relatively early.

Right-hander Jorge Ortega was in and out of trouble throughout his 4 1/3 innings of work and four errors behind him didn't help, either.

One night after the Shuckers rallied out of an early four-run deficit to knock off the visiting Birmingham Barons, homestanding Biloxi was unable to work its magic for a second straight night, falling 9-2.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak at MGM Park.

Getting started

Birmingham scored one run in the first and fourth innings, two in the third and then blasted five runs in the fifth off of Ortega and reliever Tyler Spurlin.

Surrendering eight runs (six earned) on nine hits and a walk with two strikeouts ballooned Ortega's ERA from 3.79 to 4.38.

"When you're not able to execute it's always going to be a difficult night. Everything was high in the strike zone," manager Mike Guerrero said. "I really think the errors opened up the flood gates.

"When you have to get four, five, six outs in an inning it's always tough.

"And if you're not having your best stuff, it's always going to be a bad outcome. We just have to play better."

The Barons could have extended the lead in the seventh with the bases loaded but second baseman Nick Shaw made a nice dive up the middle and flip to Noriega to start an inning-ending double play for reliever Hobbs Johnson.

Quiet offense

The Shuckers (36-27) had multiple chances to bite into the Barons' (27-37) large lead, perhaps none better than in the sixth. Garrett Cooper, Jacob Nottingham and Tyrone Taylor all reached base on starter David Holmberg to start the inning, but a Nick Ramirez double play and comebacker off the bat of newly acquired infielder Gabriel Noriega only pushed across one run.

The Barons left-hander ended up allowing just two runs on eight hits and one walk with five strikeouts in six innings to improve to 5-4 on the year.

"We had the base runners but we hit into double plays with the bases loaded," Guerrero said. "That's a killer. We had the big guys out there in the middle of opportunities and it didn't happen.

"It was a night where nothing went our way. Step three times back and pump tomorrow."

Lead Shuckers

Nottingham continued to swing a hot bat, picking up two more hits to improve his average to .264. Brett Phillips went 2-for-5 to push his on-base streak to six games. Noriega also had two hits, as did Trey Michalczewiski, Keon Barnum, Adam Engel and Marcus Lemon for the Barons. Johnson pitched three scoreless frames to close out the game for Biloxi despite walking six batters.

What's next?

After claiming the series with Sunday's 6-5 win, Biloxi entered Monday's contest tied with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos atop the Southern League's South Division.

Biloxi and Birmingham wrap the five-game series Tuesday with another 7:10 p.m. start. Biloxi will send left-hander Wei-Chung Wang (2-3, 4.61 ERA) to the mound against right-hander and former Vanderbilt ace Carson Fulmer (3-7, 5.37).

The Shuckers will conclude their first-half schedule with a five-game road trip to Jacksonville, starting Wednesday.

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