Armando Returns, Ducks Lose 7-2

CENTRAL ISLIP, NY – The small crowd left in the ninth inning of the Long Island Ducks game last night quickly had flashbacks of Met postseasons past.

There he was, Armando Benitez, wearing No. 48, as he trotted in to close the Newark Bears eventual 7-3 win.

Of course a dunker and a walk put two runners on, but Benitez recorded the save – after all this wasn’t the playoffs – as Long Island wanted to put this match behind them.

“It was one of those games,” said Ducks manager Gary Carter. “Our starting pitcher goes four innings and throws 84 pitches and our middle guy Mike Hrynio throws 51 pitches. It’s not what you are looking for.”

That starter was B.J. Lamura, who Carter described as the team’s No. 5 man. Getting roughed up early, the Ronkonkoma native gave up two in the first highlighted by Rob Mackowiak’s two-out double into left-center field. And then the Bears added another run in the second to get a 3-0 lead.

The Ducks did come back though thanks to Johnny Hernandez’s homer making it 3-2.

Yet that was all the closest Long Island could muster on the chilly night. Since former Duck Carl Everett gave Newark its fourth run on his fourth homer of the season.

“You have to give Newark credit though, they are a good team,” Carter said. “It’s just one of those things. Tomorrow is another day and Newark has done well in the other division. We just have to keep holding our own.”

Time might be getting short for Lamura who is now 0-3 on the season, as Carter said he is looking for “guys he can rely on.”

Just as Newark is looking to lean on their bullpen and shorten games. Besides the former Met closer, the Bears also have former White Sox ninth inning guy Keith Foulke who pitched a scoreless eighth. Although it’s not Putz to K-Rod, it is a formidable one-two punch for the Atlantic League.

“They have the most major league experience,” Carter said. “Foulke has a lot of saves as does Benitez. Obviously the right answer is to get to their starting staff early, because they have a very strong bullpen.”

The Ducks will look to do that tonight as they continue their four games series against the Bears. Long Island will look to rough up Bears starter Edgar Martinez, while the Flock will send their admiral to the mound with former Yankee Brad Halsey toeing the rubber.

Notes: It was Knights of Columbus night at Citibank Park as the fraternal organization took part in all the pre-game ceremonies and sponsored clock night….Preston Wilson is still rehabbing his knee, and is days away from playing.

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