Reading, PA (WWBT)- The Reading Phillies jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, taking game three of a four-game series from the Flying Squirrels, 7-4.
The Phils jumped on top quickly as Squirrels' left-hander Ryan Verdugo walked the lead-off man, Freddy Galvis, in the first inning. Galvis stole second base, and Carlos Rivero flared a double just fair inside the right-field line to score him for a 1-0 lead. Rivero advanced to third base on a passed ball charged to Aaron Lowenstein and scored for a 2-0 advantage on a sacrifice-fly from Matt Rizzotti.
Wes Hodges got one of the runs back for Richmond in the top of the second inning, homering for the second time in as many nights. Hodges sent a solo-shot to left field with one out against Reading right-hander J.C. Ramirez to cut the R-Phils' lead to 2-1.
Reading got the run right back in the second as Stephen Susdorf opened the inning with a double to left field. Niuman Romero singled to move him to third, and two batters later, Ramirez laid down a perfect squeeze-bunt to bring him in for a 3-1 lead. It marked the first professional RBI for the R-Phils' hurler.
Rizzotti stretched the Reading lead in the fifth inning, sending a two-run opposite-field home run off of Verdugo. Rizzotti's 15 home run of the season came with Rivero aboard and two outs in the inning.
Meanwhile, Ramirez cruised into the sixth inning, having conceded just the home run to Hodges. With Charlie Culberson and Chris Dominguez aboard in the sixth, Hodges got him again. Hodges blasted a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center field, the three-run home run pulling the Squirrels within a run, trailing 5-4. It was the third home run for Hodges in the series.
Verdugo returned to the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Susdorf greeted him with his sixth home run of the season. The solo-shot to right-center field chased Verdugo from the ballgame and increased the Reading lead to two runs, 6-4.
Verdugo (5-4) endured the loss over five-plus innings, conceding six runs - five earned - on eight hits. He walked two and struck out three in his fourth defeat of the year. Ramirez (7-7) departed after six innings to the victory. He allowed four earned runs - all driven in by Hodges - on four hits. He walked two and struck out a season-high nine.
Reading tacked on a final run to cap the scoring in the seventh inning. Derrick Mitchell knocked in Rivero with an RBI single off of right-hander Hector Correa. It was the first run allowed as a Squirrel by Correa.
The Reading bullpen was stout in relief as left-hander Derrick Loop and right-hander Josh Zeid combined for three scoreless innings of relief. Zeid worked the final two innings and struck out four to earn his first save of the season.