MOOSIC — Tommy Kahnle left one pitch up. And Willians Astudillo just made him pay.
After watching the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rochester Red Wings left fielder took the game into his own hands. With Chris Carter standing on second base, Kahnle left a 96-mph fastball up in the zone — it might have even been a ball according to RailRiders catcher Kyle Higashioka — and Astudillo drilled the 1-0 delivery into the bullpens.
Despite a valiant ninth-inning effort by the RailRiders, getting a run back, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (30-34) fell short as Brandon Drury flew out to left field with runners on the corners to end what was a 4-3 defeat Wednesday night at PNC Field.
Rochester (29-33) avoided the sweep and snapped a 10-game losing streak.
“That guy, he’s a tough hitter,” Higashioka said of Astudillo. “To be honest, I don’t even think it was a strike. I think it was probably a little high, but he’s one of those guys where it’s almost like he hits the balls that are out of the zone and sometimes can get himself out on the ones in the zone. He’s one of the funky ones where you really have to pitch him a special way, but unfortunately he just got a hold of it and it happened to be game-changing.”
After watching Rochester grab the lead back thanks to Astudillo’s ninth-inning, two-run blast, the RailRiders did their best to extend the game.
With the bottom of the order due up in the ninth, Higashioka and Mark Payton got things going with back-to-back singles to start the frame. Higashioka even got to third on Payton’s hit when Rochester right fielder LaMonte Wade botched the throw in.
After Bruce Caldwell’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly to deep right-center field, which made it 4-3, Clint Frazier battled back from an 0-2 count to work a walk and Tyler Wade gave the RailRiders runners on the corners after he grounded into a force out at second base.
The RailRiders had their hottest hitter up in Drury, who dug into the batter’s box already 3-for-4 with an RBI. But Drury just got under a Trevor May delivery and flew out to Nick Buss in left field. Buss had replaced Astudillo before the inning started.
“We had three good games in a row and then this one was another pretty well-played game, but, I mean, that’s kind of the thing where more of the, kind of, fight in the late innings if we’re down or tied,” Higashioka said. ”We’re always at least putting up a fight, which is good. That’s what we should be doing.”
Chance Adams registered one of his best starts of the season for the RailRiders.
Despite leaving the game with the RailRiders trailing 2-1, Adams only gave up one earned run in seven innings. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out five.
Adams credited the change in his changeup grip and working down in the zone, which induced 10 groundballs, to his success.
“I was pitching down in the zone, I guess, earlier in the count and then up in the zone later,” Adams said. “I guess they were just getting on top of them. I’m throwing more changeups now, so I’m more confident with it.
“(My changeup) went from an average pitch to a plus pitch in my mind. Working on it more, found a good grip, found a comfortable release point. Command as well.”
RailRiders right fielder Billy McKinney homered for the third time in four games and fifth time in eight games. Wednesday’s home run was to 419 feet to deep center.
His progression at the plate as of late has been something that has caught RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell’s eye. McKinney is batting .257 with five home runs, six runs scored and 13 RBI in his last 10 games.
“Yeah, he’s really hitting well,” Mitchell said. “Staying in the middle of the field, obviously, and sees the ball good. He’s putting a lot of good swings on it. That’s a long way he hit that (home run).”
Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer went 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Wednesday. In his three-game rehab appearance with the Rochester Red Wings, Mauer was 0-for-10 with two strikeouts. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 18 with a cervical strain and concussion-like symptoms.
Red Wings 4, RailRiders 3
L. Wade rf`4`0`0`0
T. Wade ss`5`1`1`0
E: Gordon 2, L. Wade 1, Avelino (2); Pickoffs: Adams (Motter at 1B); DP: Red Wings 1, RailRiders 0; LOB: Red Wings 3, RailRiders 9; 2B: Sawyer (2), Astudillo (7), Carter (3) T. Wade (12); HR: Astudillo (7), McKinney (8); CS: Motter (2).
Rochester`020`000`002 — 4
RailRiders`000`100`011 — 3
Busenitz (BS, 1)(W, 1-1)`1.1`3`1`1`0`1
May (S, 2)`1`2`1`1`1`0
Kahnle (L, 1-1)`1`2`2`0`1
WP: Busenitz 2.
HBP: Sawyer (by Adams).
Umpires: Ryan Additon, HP; Brennan Miller, 1B; Shane Livensparger, 2B; Blake Carnahan, 3B.
Time: 2:26; Attendance: 4,173.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle