MOOSIC – When the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders learned on Friday that Phil Hughes wasn’t going to make a rehab start for the club on Saturday, they were scrambling for a starter.
Help came from Trenton in right-hander Graham Stoneburner. The 25-year-old made his Triple-A debut on another chilly night at PNC Field. He pitched well for his first time above Double-A throwing more pitches than he did all of last year and equaling his high inning mark of 2012 with the Thunder. The four innings came exactly one year after tossing four for Trenton.
But the PawSox put a crooked number on the scoreboard late in the game for the third straight night to hand the RailRiders their third straight setback to begin the season, a 7-2 loss.
It marks the second consecutive season SWB started the season 0-3. Last year, the team still rebounded to make the playoffs by winning the International League North Division.
Holding onto a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth, the PawSox loaded the bases on walks against Riders reliever Jim Miller. Jeremy Hazelbaker made him pay crushing a grand slam to left field to put the game out of reach.
Stoneburner (0-1) retired the side in order in the first inning and only gave up a single in the second but that was erased on a double play. He was given a lead in the bottom of the second when Gil Velazquez singled home Luke Murton, who reached safely on an error for a 1-0 lead.
Stoneburner, a 14th-round pick in 2009 out of Clemson, ran into trouble in the third inning as eight Pawtucket batters came to the plate and the Red Sox scored three runs.
Dan Butler doubled in J.C Linares to even the score at 1-1 two batters into the frame. Stoneburner then struck out Jon Hee, but a walk and single followed to load the bases. A one-out grounder to first baseman Luke Murton was thrown away trying to get the runner at second and that allowed two more runs to score for a 3-1 lead.
The RailRiders got a run back in the bottom of the third on an RBI-single from Addison Maruszak scoring Dan Johnson to move the score to 3-2.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre had an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the bottom of the eighth loading the bases with two outs, but came away empty.
PawSox starter Chris Hernandez, who saw Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year in the playoffs allowing just two runs in six innings while taking a no-decision, threw four innings Saturday night limiting SWB to four hits and one earned run in the no-decision.