Chuck Lofgren pitched six no-hit innings for the Akron Aeros in a 4-3 Eastern League win over visiting Altoona on Saturday. It was the third consecutive strong start for Lofgren, who endured the worst season of his career a year ago. In 2008, the highly regarded left-hander went only 2-6 with a 6.99 ERA for the Double-A Aeros. He also struggled to deal with his mother being seriously ill.
Akron continued the best start in franchise history by improving to 13-3. The Curve dropped to 4-12.
A big reason for the good start has been the fine pitching of Lofgren. He has a 1-0 record and 1.13 ERA. In 16 innings over three starts, he has allowed only six hits, six walks and two earned runs while striking out 12.
Saturday, he overcame a shaky first inning. He retired the first two batters he faced, then issued his only walk and hit the next batter with a pitch. He recovered to get an inning-ending strikeout and went on to retire the final 16 batters he faced.
He struck out seven.
In his previous start at Bowie, Lofgren took a no-hitter into the fifth inning
Akron took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Jose Constanza (.349) tripled into the left-field corner and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Beau Mills.
Carlos Santana (.220) then hit his fifth homer of the season to make it 2-0.
Jerad Head (.400) opened the sixth with a solo homer, his second, for a 3-0 lead.
When Lofgren left, the Curve rallied against reliever Carlton Smith in the seventh inning. The first five batters Smith faced all reached base The first five Curve hitters reached base as Altoona tied the score.
Akron came right back in the bottom half. Nick Weglarz (.065) drew a four-pitch walk and was bunted to second by Josh Rodriguez (.268) Armando Camacaro (.333) reached first when his hard shot ricocheted off the chest of Altoona second baseman Jim Negrych, who was charged with an error, sending Weglarz to third.
Head then blooped an RBI single to center to drive in Weglarz for a 4-3 lead.
Smith (2-0, 4.32 ERA) pitched a perfect eighth and got the win. Vinnie Pestano (1.23 ERA) worked a hitless ninth for his seventh save.
The Aeros will try to take four of five in the series on Sunday. Akron right-hander Frank Herrmann (1-1. 2.12 ERA) will oppose Altoona lefty Tony Watson (0-2, 11.57 ERA).