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Junior tames Jackals; Tornadoes trim playoffs magic number to 5.

Byline: Kevin O'Malley

WORCESTER - After losing a pair of starts to New Jersey earlier this year, Junior Guerrero got his second win over the Jackals this season with a solid start, twice retiring at least nine straight to lead the Tornadoes to a 7-4 win over the Jackals before 2,675 fans last night at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.

"We had a pretty good game with defense; the offense was pretty good early, so that made us play pretty good," Guerrero said.

Guerrero earned his seventh win of the season, going 7-1/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks. He was relieved in the eighth after allowing a pair of runs on three hits in that inning. Guerrero faced the minimum through three innings and took a one-hitter into the eighth, facing just two over the minimum.

After giving up a two-run double to switch-hitting Bryant Nelson, who had a 35-at-bat cup of coffee with the Red Sox in 2002, left-handed reliever Ryan Lobban got out of the jam, getting back-to-back strikeouts of Juan Tejeda and Luke Allen.

Eddie Pena pitched the ninth to earn his eighth save.

Worcester improved to 4-8 against the Jackals this season while dropping its magic number for qualifying for the Can-Am League playoffs to five.

"We have a lot of games to go, eight games or nine games, I don't know exactly what the schedule is, but we are playing every day hard. It doesn't matter what's the magic number, we are going out to compete and try to win the game, as many games as we can," Guerrero said. "This is not the only important game we have; all the games are important for us right now."

Cleanup batter Francisco Caraballo (3 for 4, three RBIs) led the offense, extending his streak of home run hitting to four straight days with a towering solo home run to left field off Justin Barnes to lead off the eighth and close out the scoring. Barnes recovered to record three straight strikeouts.

"I've been working on my swing the whole year, and it's just happening right now," Caraballo said. "It's something that happens; I usually have good numbers the last month of the year. It's been like that my whole career and it's fun. I like to be like that down at the end."

It marked the first time Worcester has won back-to-back games over the Jackals all season.

Tornadoes southpaw Tom Cochran, the Can-Am League leader in wins with 13, will look for the series sweep tonight when he takes on New Jersey's Ted Serro.

Worcester scored in the bottom of the first inning when Caraballo took a 3-0 pitch to the opposite field to drive in Scott Grimes and B.J. Weed. The runs were the third and fourth Caraballo drove in this series and his 59th and 60th of the season. His home run in the eighth gave him 61 RBIs, trailing only Can-Am leader Chris Colabello (71) for the team high.

Grimes made it 3-0 with a two-out single in the second that drove in Omar Pena.

The Tornadoes tacked on three more in the third inning, again taking advantage of a leadoff walk by Jackals starter Jorge Acosta, who walked the leadoff man in each of the first three innings before giving way to Ryan Pacyna in the fourth.

Acosta, (3 innings, 5 hits, 5 earned runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts) took his second loss of the season against Worcester, falling to 1-4 for the season. Pacyna pitched the next three innings, scattering a pair of hits while striking out three without issuing a walk.

Alex Trezza drove in Colabello with a one-out double down the right-field line, and shortstop Chuck Jeroloman followed, snapping an 0-for-20 skid with another double down the right-field line as both runners capitalized on some lackadaisical fielding and weak throwing by Jackals right fielder Billy Kovatch.

The Jackals got on the board in the top of the eighth inning when Kovatch put a Guerrero fastball over the fence in right field after Kelly reached with a leadoff walk, cutting the Tornadoes' lead to 6-2. Nelson's double made it 6-4, and Caraballo closed out the scoring with his eighth-inning homer.



CUTLINE: Worcester's Mike MacMillan is chased down and tagged out by New Jersey catcher Craig Maddox, left, as Marcus Sanders tries to jump out of the way.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 21, 2008
Previous Article:Battered Buchholz demoted.
Next Article:Cora was warming up.

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