A Sunday loss and a Monday rainout were not the best ways for the IronBirds to start a new week.
But those two evenings aside, the Aberdeen club, which plodded through its worst start in team history through June and early July, is finding ways to win ball games, taking six straight victories from Monday through Saturday.
A 5-3 loss on Sunday snapped the winning streak, and thunderstorms hovering over Aberdeen ended the IronBirds' series closer with Auburn before it began.
The Monday game will not be made up, the IronBirds front office announced after the contest was called off around 9 p.m., after more thunderstorms passed through Aberdeen and the rest of Harford County between late afternoon and early evening.
"The players have been working hard every single day," Aberdeen skipper Matt Merullo said earlier during his team's six-game win streak. "They've been working in the batting cages, working on their swings with the coaches here. And, what's important, they didn't start panicking when we weren't getting the hits we needed. They played game by game, and things started to turn around a little bit for us."
Through Monday's rainout, the IronBirds are sitting at 10-20 on the season.
Win streak ended
The IronBirds, who came into Sunday's game at Ripken Stadium having won their last six matchups, watched their victory streak come to a halt with a 5-3 loss to the Auburn Doubledays.
Auburn posted a pair of runs in the top of the first, then went ahead, 3-1 with another run in the fifth. The IronBirds scored once in the home half of the fifth, while Auburn answered in the next half inning with its final two tallies. The hosts scored once in the bottom of the sixth, and once more in the bottom of the eighth, but could get no closer than two runs.
Making his second rehab start with the IronBirds since joining the team last week, Maryland native and major league pitcher Steven Johnson (0-1) had to settle for the loss, as he allowed two earned runs on two hits, struck out two and walked two over three innings of work.
Reliever Augey Bill went three innings, striking out two, walking one and allowing three earned runs on five hits. Nik Nowottnick struck out one, walked two and held Auburn hitless for two innings, while Stefan Crichton tossed one perfect inning out of the bullpen.
Oswill Lartiguez, one of two IronBirds with multiple hits, was a perfect 4-for-4 with a double and a walk.
"Lartiguez is one of the players I think we're going to see a lot out of," Merullo said prior to Saturday's victory. "He's a classic outfielder, he's got a good arm and he can move. He's got a really nice swing, too. He might be one of those players who doesn't know just how good he is."
Riley Palmer was 1-for-2 with a home run, his first of the season, and two runs scored. Stephen Wilkerson was 2-for-4 with one RBI, while Jamil Moquete was 1-for-4 with an RBI triple. Austin Pfeiffer was 1-for-4 with one run.
'Birds battle for sixth straight
As with their previous night's victory, the Aberdeen IronBirds came from behind to beat visiting Batavia, 6-1, on Saturday night and extend their winning streak to a season-best six games.
Aberdeen starter John Means held Batavia scoreless through the first three innings, striking out one and surrendering one hit before exiting the game.
Batavia went ahead in the top of the fourth, piecing together three, two-out singles off reliever Matt Trowbridge for one run.
Aberdeen left fielder Oswill Lartiguez kicked off the game-tying rally in the bottom of the fifth, earning a one-out walk, then speeding over to third on Tanner Murphy's single to right field. With Steve Wilkerson at the plate, Batavia's pitcher uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Lartiguez to motor home and knot the contest, 1-1.
Justin Viele led off Aberdeen's half of the sixth with a walk, which was followed by back-to-back singles from Austin Anderson and Alex Murphy, the latter of whom drove Viele home for the go-ahead run. Hector Veloz lofted a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Anderson to tag up and score from third, but Murphy was thrown out trying to reach second for a double-play. Lartiguez kept the rally afloat with a single to right and later scored his team's fourth run on an RBI double by Tanner Murphy. Wilkerson capped the five-run outburst with a two-run shot over the right field fence, his first round-tripper of the season.
Nigel Nootbaar (1-0) earned the win in relief, tossing 2-2/3 innings in which he struck out one, walked one and held Batavia to one hit.
Derrick Bleeker went two innings out the bullpen, allowing two hits and recording one strikeout.
Winning streak intact
Things did not look good for Aberdeen early in its Friday engagement with visiting Batavia, which jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning, but the IronBirds battled back to take a 9-4 victory and win their fifth game in a row.
Batavia jumped on Aberdeen starter Patrick Connaughton for four runs (three earned) on five hits before he was pulled with two outs in the second inning.
Down by four runs, Aberdeen got things moving in the bottom of the second, scoring three times with the help of an RBI single from Oswill Lartiguez, a sacrifice fly by Steve Wilkerson and a wild pitch that allowed Alex Murphy to score from third.
Jay Gonzalez evened things up at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, knocking home Federico Castagnini from third with an RBI single.
Aberdeen broke open the game in the seventh, putting together a four-run rally that was highlighted by Hector Veloz's one-out, RBI triple to right.
In the eighth, Justin Viele made it to first on a dropped third strike, moved to second on a wild pitch, went to third on Austin Anderson's base hit, then scored the game's final run on a wild pitch.
Aberdeen reliever David Hess took over for Connaughton in the second and went 3-1/3 innings, striking out three and allowing two hits along the way.
Matthew Grimes (1-1) earned the win, striking out one and holding Batavia hitless over a two-inning relief stint.
Ivan Hernandez tossed two perfect innings to close out the game, striking out two of the six hitters he faced.
'Birds win by one
The IronBirds earned their fourth straight win Thursday night with a 4-0, two-hit shutout victory over visiting Batavia.
IronBird starter Bennett Parry (2-0) went four innings to earn the win, striking out six, walking four and allowing one hit.
Stefan Crichton tossed one inning in which he struck out one and allowed one hit.
Dariel Delgado came on in the seventh and closed out the game for Aberdeen, striking out three hitters over three perfect innings.
Aberdeen managed just four singles, and only one player was credited with an RBI, but the IronBirds still managed to plate four runs.
Jay Gonzalez was 1-for-4 with one run, while Austin Anderson and Alex Murphy both went 1-for-3 with one run.
Federico Castagnini was 1-for-3 with one RBI and Riley Palmer scored once for Aberdeen.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun