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By VAN ROSE vrose@leader.net

Friday, August 06, 2004     Page: 1B

MOOSIC - Despite a mild case of the jitters, pitching phenom Gavin Floyd made an impressive Triple-A debut Thursday night. Unfortunately for the Red Barons, he didn't pick up the win.
    Buffalo took an early 1-0 lead and stretched it to 3-0 in the sixth inning against Floyd, and held on for a 3-2 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the second game of a doubleheader at Lackawanna County Stadium.
    The Red Barons rallied for a 7-6 victory in the opener on J.P. Roberge's two-run single in the bottom of the seventh. The split left Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (58-52) three games behind Buffalo (62-50) in the North Division of the International League.
    Floyd got off to a shaky start, giving up a double to leadoff hitter Brandon Phillips to start the game. Phillips later scored from third on a wild pitch by Floyd, giving the Bisons a 1-0 lead.
    The 21-year-old right-hander settled down. He got into a couple of minor jams, but didn't allow another run until Buffalo scored twice in the sixth on RBI doubles by Chris Clapinski and Raul Gonzalez.
    ``I guess I was a little nervous at first, but I settled down. I thought I pitched OK. I pitched out of a couple of jams, and then got back in one (in the sixth).
    ``I had trouble getting ahead of hitters, but I made some good pitches. I'm glad I was able to make my (Triple-A) debut for Scranton.''
    Red Barons manager Marc Bombard said Floyd acquitted himself well. ``He pitched good. He had men on third twice, and both times got out of the inning. He probably had some butterflies in his stomach.''
    Floyd gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings of work, and suffered the loss.
    The Red Barons captured the opener in dramatic fashion. Buffalo, which overcame an early 4-0 deficit, held a 6-5 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
    Scranton/Wilkes-Barre received a gift when leadoff batter Shawn Wooten reached first on a fielding error by shortstop Brandon Phillips, who dropped a routine ground ball.
    Buzz Hannahan was inserted as a pinch runner for Wooten. The Bisons brought in ace lefty Cliff Bartosh to face cleanup hitter Ryan Howard.
    The Red Barons' first baseman delivered a clutch hit - a towering ground rule double that bounced over the center field fence - that moved Hannahan to third.
    Buffalo then intentionally walked Mark Smith, loading the bases. Jim Rushford followed with a sharp ground ball to second, which resulted in Hannahan being forced out at home.
    That set the stage for Roberge, who blooped a single to shallow left field, easily scoring Howard and Smith to secure the victory.
    The Red Barons got off to a fast start, taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Mark Budzinski led off with a triple, and promptly scored on Pablo Ozuna's RBI single.
    Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scored two more runs on Smith's RBI single and an RBI double by Rushford. They widened the margin to 4-0 on a solo homer by Budzinski in the second.
    The Red Barons appeared to be sailing along. Pitcher Vicente Padilla, making a rehab start, struck out the first four batters he faced. Padilla pitched three innings of no-hit ball, and seemed to be in full control.
    However, Padilla was the victim of misfortune in the Buffalo fourth.
    He retired the first two batters, but then walked Ryan Ludwick and Chris Clapinski. The next batter, Raul Gonzalez, hit a ground ball to Roberge at second base.
    Roberge was forced to go to his right in the hole and fielded the ball cleanly. He flipped the ball to shortstop Ozuna, who was covering second. Clapinski beat the throw by a step - filling the bases with Bisons.
    Brent Abernathy then belted a grand slam home run, tying the score at 4-4. Dusty Wathan followed with a triple off reliever Spike Lundberg, and scored on Jason Tyner's bunt single, giving the Bisons a 5-4 lead.
    The Red Barons drew even at 5-5 on Howard's RBI single in the bottom of the fourth. Buffalo regained the lead at 6-5 in the top of the seventh when Phillips scored from third on a nifty squeeze bunt by Eric Crozier.
    NOTES: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre left fielder Lou Collier joined the Phillies in San Diego Thursday as a possible fill-in for outfielder Pat Burrell, who was injured in Wednesday's win over the Padres. ... Philadelphia GM Ed Wade was on hand at Lackawanna County Stadium for Floyd's Triple-A debut.
    Red Barons shortstop Pablo Ozuna leaps out of the way of a sliding Chris Clapinski of Buffalo after getting the force at second base Thursday at Lackawanna County Stadium.
    Vincente Padilla is on a rehab assignment with the Red Barons.
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