Akron, OH — It turns out that a change of scenery back to the friendly confines of Canal Park was exactly what the Aeros needed to snap their troublesome, six-game losing streak.
Jesus Aguilar's towering, tape-measure, three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning rescued the Aeros from a 2-0 deficit, and led to a thrilling, 3-2 win over the Reading Fightin Phils before a crowd of 8,688, at Canal Park.
The Aeros (57-67) put a halt to the losing streak, which began a week ago Thursday at home against New Britain, and extended through the recent six-game road trip to Trenton and Richmond. The streak lasted long enough to land Akron in the EL West cellar.
Aguilar's homer, his team-leading 15th of the season, came off Reading reliever Mike Nesseth (1-4) with two on and one out in the eighth and the Aeros trailing 2-0. The homer raised Aguilar's RBI total for the season to 94, three short of tying the Aeros single-season record. Nesseth had come in to face Aguilar after Jose Ramirez walked and Matt Lawson singled off Reading lefty Austin Wright.
It was a case of what-goes-around-comes-around for the Aeros, who had lost a pair of eighth inning leads in losses at Richmond the last two nights.
Righthander Austin Adams, the losing pitcher on Wednesday night at Richmond, came on and recorded a perfect ninth for his fourth save of the season. Adam's save made a winner of Akron lefty Kyle Crockett (1-0), who earned his first Double-A win with two scoreless innings of relief.
Cleveland Indians righthander Josh Tomlin made a major league rehab start for the Aeros. He allowed one run over four innings in his longest rehab outing to date during his recovery and comeback from Tommy John surgery. He gave up a lead-off single to Matt Tolbert in the first inning. Two outs later, clean-up man Jim Murphy stroked an RBI double to left to make it 1-0.
Tomlin did not allow another hit after that. He threw 49 pitches, 34 of which were strikes. He has made two rehab outings with Akron, and seven overall, since being cleared to pitch. He underwent season-ending surgery on August 22nd of last season.
The Fightin's (52-71) extended their lead to 2-0, in the sixth inning against Aeros lefty Matt Packer. Tolbert again led off with a hit, and came home on Maikel Franco's RBI double.
Reading lefthander Bobby Bramhall made a spot-start for the Phils, and was virtually un-hittable. Bramhall worked five innings and allowed just two hits. He danced around a pair of walks and a single in the fourth inning, and left the bases loaded. He gave way to Wright in the sixth, and Wright worked two scoreless innings before faltering in the eighth. The Fightins have lost three straight.
The Aeros and Fightin' Phils will play game two of the three-game series on Saturday night at 7:05. LHP Mario Hollands (3-1, 4.15) will go for the Phils, while RHP Toru Murata (5-5, 3.70) will take the ball for Akron.