Don Minnick and Ed Moore pitched a five-hitter as the Hagerstown Suns defeated the Alexandria Dukes and their ace, Art Ray, 4-1, yesterday in a Carolina League game watched by 973 fans at Four Mile Run Park.
After dropping the opening two games, the Suns, the first-half Northern Division champions, weren't about to be swept, despite the presence of Ray (8-2).
Minnick, a former Duke, allowed the five hits. He was forced to leave the game with one out in the sixth inning when struck on the lower right leg by a drive hit by Scott Kuvinka.
Moore came in with runners on first and third and pitched hitless ball thereafter for his sixth save.
Ray allowed only two hits in the first five innings but had trouble in the sixth. Leadoff man John Pavlik walked, and when Bill Butler sacrificed, Ray threw high to first. Kurt Fabrizio sacrificed, and Dave Rivera, after fouling off five fast balls, lined a shot into left field for a 2-1 lead.
Bob Palmer and Pavlik hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh to finish Ray. Pete Hamner pitched 2 1/3 innings of perfect relief to extend his streak to 35 1/3 innings without an earned run.
The 973 fans gave the Dukes a three-game series total of 3,583, their best three-game and weekend series since 1978. According to General Manager Rick Holt, any profit probably won't be evident until the end of the season.
"It's hard to judge on a stretch of a couple of days, because in the minors you're usually dealing with a yearly budget," he said. "We're definitely making money today and during this series, but you have to remember back in April when it was 41 degrees and raining and nobody was here."
The Dukes are controlled by the Pittsburgh Pirates; last season, the team was a co-op franchise.
"In 1979, when we were controlled by the (Seattle) Mariners, we averaged 600 fans per game and we nearly broke even," Holt said. "Last year when we were dealing with salaries along with the usual costs of broken bats, baseballs and ballpark maintenance, it was virtually impossible to make money. But this year, without salaries to worry about and with improved attendance, we have a shot to make money or break even."
The Dukes will play three games in Salem, then return Thursday for a seven-game homestand. The first four games will be against Lynchburg and the next three against Winston-Salem.