Carrasco closes out Cannons

LYNCHBURG — Work has been scarce for D.J. Carrasco of late, but as usual he made things work out.

The Lynchburg Hillcats’ closer allowed a two-run double in the eighth, then gathered himself to secure a 5-4 victory against the Potomac Cannons on Wednesday.

Carrasco had faced only one batter since May 16, but shook off any rust that might have accumulated by retiring four of the last five batters for his Carolina League-leading 14th save.

“You tend to lose a little bit of your edge,” Carrasco said. “I threw one guy one too many sliders, and he hit the ball good. Other than that, I made great pitches.”

The “one guy” was Al Rodgers, who fell behind 0-2 in the count before ripping a two-run double to left-center to bring the Cannons within a run. It scored Chris Morris, who drew a walk from Mike Bumatay, and Aaron Fera, who singled softly to right field off Carrasco.

The run charged to Carrasco was only the second he’s allowed in 24 innings this season. He entered with a 0.40 ERA and was not concerned when Potomac (16-28) cut into Lynchburg’s 5-2 lead.

“Nah,” he said. “If everybody was driving the ball off me that would be another thing. But I was making the pitches. They were just putting the bat on the ball.”

The third-place Cannons have proven to be a tricky opponent for the Hillcats (34-11). They halted Lynchburg’s club-record 12-game winning streak Tuesday, taking a 3-2 lead in the season series.

On Wednesday, Potomac led 1-0 in the first and tied the score at 2 in the sixth — both on sacrifice flies.

“They’re the one team that’s really given us the most trouble,” Hillcats manager Pete Mackanin said. “And to me it was important not to let that one get away for that reason. I wanted that win.

“I don’t care what our record is, we’re only 31/2 games in front (of Wilmington). The record, to me, means nothing if we don’t win the first half.”

Jason Sharber (5-1) won his fourth straight start, despite a shaky six innings in which he allowed five hits and two runs. The right-hander earned the victory when the Hillcats broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the bottom of the sixth off Potomac starter Donovan Graves (0-1).

Jose Castillo and Josh Bonifay opened the inning with walks and Ronny Paulino — mired in a 3-for-36 skid — drilled the first pitch he saw into right field for a two-run double.

Yurendell DeCaster had a solo homer in the third for Lynchburg.

“To me, it’s a must-win,” Mackanin said. “We’ve got to establish our game against this team because they’re playing us as tough as any team we’ve faced.”

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