Baseball: Palm Beach thwarts Bradenton's rallies
BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Marauders had a pair of late rallies repelled by the Palm Beach Cardinals, who claimed sole possession of first place with a 6-3 win Sunday at McKechnie Field.
Rehabbing Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker went 1-for-4, collecting a single, a walk, and a run scored while playing all nine innings in the field during his rehab appearance.
The Cardinals struck for two runs against John Kuchno in the first inning and never led by less than two the rest of the way. Ildemaro Vargas and Breyvic Valera lined consecutive singles, then scored on Luke Voit's two-run triple. Jonathan Schwind threw Voit out at the plate as he tried to score on Alex Mejia's fly out to right.
Palm Beach tacked on an unearned run in the second before Bradenton answered to trim the lead to 3-1 in the home half of the third inning. Jin-De Jhang singled and went to third on Raul Fortunato's double with one out against starter Nick Petree. Adam Frazier brought Jhang home with a ground out. Petree pitched six innings and struck out five without issuing a walk.
The Cardinals pushed across three runs in the fourth to take a 6-1 lead that would hold up until the eighth. Josh Bell and Eric Wood wacked RBI-singles off Sam Tuivailala to cut the Cardinals' lead to 6-3. Bradenton brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth against Iden Nazario, but Bell flew out to end the game.
Kuchno pitched seven innings for the fourth time in five games, but fell to 0-3 in those starts. Ryan Hafner struck out four batters over two scoreless innings of relief.
Game 2 of the series is Monday at 6:30 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Jason Creasy will be on the mound for the Marauders.