ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Richie Lewis remembers when he wore the prospect label.
"Four surgeries later, here I am," Lewis said.
After three straight complete-game victories, one a five-hit shutout, Lewis joined the International League's leading pitchers. The Rochester Red Wings right-hander ranked 10th with a 2.48 ERA and fourth with 36 strikeouts.
"As long as I'm healthy, the prospect status never left," Lewis, 26, said. "If I'm able to to get out there every fifth day, my ability had been determined by the people that drafted me in '87."
The Montreal Expos made the Florida State pitcher their second pick, the 44th overall. After five injury-filled seasons, they traded him to the Orioles last August for their former No. 1 pick, Chris Myers.
Free from arm problems -- though he has a 2 1/2 -inch screw in his elbow, implanted in his most recent surgery -- Lewis can concentrate on pitching and has shown the ability that Red Wings manager Jerry Narron detected last season, when he watched Lewis pitch against his Hagerstown team.
"He competes," Narron said. "That's what separates him from other guys close to the same ability."
At 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, Lewis doesn't loom over many batters. Still, he tries to look big on the mound. An all-state wide receiver as an Indiana schoolboy, Lewis displays his football background by tying back the sleeves of his jersey when he pitches to accentuate his biceps.
"You look good, you play good," he said.
Narron has used Lewis, a middle infielder in college, twice as a pinch runner. Once, Lewis took out Richmond second baseman Jeff Manto, putting him on the disabled list with a seven-stitch cut on his left ankle.
But Lewis' most imposing feature is a sharp curveball. He threw it 10 times in a row in an inning in his last start and struck out the Columbus Clippers.
* Dennis Rasmussen isn't doing anything wrong that a big night by the hitters won't cure, according to Narron.
"If we score him some runs early, he'll pitch well," the manager said. "He hasn't won because we haven't scored on days he has pitched well."
Rasmussen, 0-5 with a no-decision in his first start, has received 13 runs in the games he has started.
NOTES: LHP Israel Sanchez, on the disabled list since April 29 because of strained back muscle and shoulder tendinitis, was released yesterday. . . . Narron has moved RHP Jim Lewis (0-3, one save, 5.03 ERA) from the closer role to long relief. RHP Todd Stephan and RHP Tim Layana now have the chance to be the closer, and LHP Daryl Moore will do the job against left-handers. Moore recorded his first Triple-A save Wednesday by retiring two left-handed Toledo batters. . . . Juan Bell has played his past nine games at shortstop while Ricky Gutierrez has played second. HAGERSTOWN -- The Suns' pitching is last in the Eastern League, but it is no fault of left-hander John O'Donoghue, who is on a roll.
O'Donoghue, whose father is the pitching coach at Frederick, has won his past four decisions, pitching to a 1.24 ERA in that span. He has two of the team's three victories in May.
In his most recent start, he allowed two hits in eight innings and faced only one batter over the minimum in a 4-1 victory over the London Tigers.
He became the first Suns pitcher this season to strike out the side in an inning and face only three batters during that span.
Overall, O'Donoghue has a 2.00 ERA and is the only Suns starter who has not allowed a home run.
NOTES: Kip Yaughn collected the first complete-game win by a Suns right-hander since Mike Mussina's 4-0 victory Aug. 3, 1990. That spanned 120 games. Yaughn's complete game was the second in the league this season. . . . Damon Buford made his first error in 76 chances in center field. He still tops the league with 16 stolen bases. . . . Former top draft pick Mark Smith had a 10-game hitting streak broken Thursday. He has hit in 24 of 30 games and is batting .378 in the past 11. . . . The Suns' pitching staff has a 3.81 ERA and leads the league with 134 walks, none intentional. Twenty-eight percent of those have scored (37). They have also committed nine balks, high in the league. . . . Manny Alexander has the most multiple-hit games on the team (10) but also the most errors (eight).
FREDERICK -- At the rate they are hitting home runs, the Keys will break the team record by mid-season.
Led by Stanton Cameron and Paul Carey with eight each and Brad Seitzer with six, the team hit 30 homers in its first 34 games and was almost halfway to the all-time high.
The record of 68 was set last year. In 1990, the first season at Grove Stadium, the team hit 50 and in 1989 at McCurdy Field 56.
Cameron and Carey have matched the 1990 season high by Tim Holland when Grove opened with a 20-foot wall around the outfield. The wall is now 8 feet high.
With 23 RBI, Cameron and Carey were tied for fifth in the Carolina League, and their eight homers tied for second.
NOTES: The Keys had a five-game winning streak broken Thursday night, but had won 16 of 20 games to remain in first place in the Northern Division. They needed that run to stay a game ahead of Lynchburg, another hot club. . . . John Polasek, released by the Expos this spring, was 2-0 with 10 strikeouts and no runs allowed in his first five innings of relief. . . . Attendance was steadily climbing as the weather improved. Through 18 dates, the Keys were averaging 3,037. . . . Three Keys were named the league Pitchers of the Week in consecutive weeks. They were Alan Plaster, Terry Farrar and Matt Anderson. Farrar leads the league with three complete games, and Anderson is averaging a strikeout an inning. . . . .The Keys pulled their first triple play of the season against Prince William. 1B Jose Millares started it by catching a line drive.