From Mirror reports
BOWIE, Md. - For several weeks this summer, it appeared this year's Curve squad was on its way to the worst record in franchise history.
With a week to go, the club needs only one more victory to avoid that dubious distinction.
The Curve beat Bowie on Monday night, 5-1, at Prince George's Stadium to move to 61-73. The 2009 club set the low-water mark at 62-80, so if this year's team wins one more game, it can finish no worse than 62-79 (one rainout won't be made up, so there will only be 141 games).
Starling Marte broke one of the Curve's most notable season records as he smacked his 167th hit Monday. That moved him past Nate McLouth, who had held the record since 2004 with 166.
Marte tied McLouth's mark with a triple to start the game, igniting the Curve to a four-run first inning. He broke the record on a single to right in the seventh inning. He also had an RBI double in the ninth for his 168th hit, raising his average to .335.
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: CF Starling Marte suddenly found himself with some competition for the batting title entering play Monday. Marte was in the lead at .332, but he was just two points ahead of Reading's Michael Spidale, who had been in an 8-for-11 hot streak to jump to .330.
SAFE AT FIRST: Marte answered the challenge to once again give himself some separation, going 3-for-5 to improve to .335, while Spidale was 0-for-4 to drop to .327.
STEALING SECOND: RHP Aaron Pribanic is finishing on a high note, going 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his past four starts. He has lowered his season ERA to 3.98.
ROUNDING THIRD: Former Pirates 1B farmhand Aaron Baker, who went to the Orioles organization in last month's Derrek Lee trade, is with Bowie. He came in as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning Monday against RHP Duke Welker, his former teammate at Single-A Bradenton. Welker struck out Baker on three pitches to get out of a bases-loaded jam.
HEADING HOME: Bowie reliever Eddie Gamboa did an excellent job in relief after starter Armando Gabino lasted only one-third of an inning. Gamboa tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed just three hits.
Tonight: Altoona at Bowie, 7:05 p.m.
Pitching matchup: Curve RHP Kyle McPherson (7-5, 3.40) vs. Baysox LHP Mike Ballard (7-2, 3.51)
The Curve are out of playoff contention, but they still have some motivation for the final few games of the season. Both Bowie and Richmond, which visits Altoona this weekend, are battling for the final playoff spot in the Western Division, so the Curve can play the spoiler role against both.
Richmond won Monday, so with Bowie's loss, the Flying Squirrels picked up a game on the Baysox and now trail them by only half a game.
Brock Holt doubled home Marte in the first to give the Curve a quick lead. Andrew Lambo followed with an RBI single, and Tony Sanchez's sacrifice fly made it 3-0. Lambo later scored on an error to cap the four-run first.
Curve starter Aaron Pribanic (10-9) turned in a strong outing, allowing one run on seven hits in six innings with four strikeouts and one walk. He blanked the Baysox for five innings before giving up a solo homer to Brandon Waring in the sixth.
Bowie starter Armando Gabino (5-3) lasted just one-third of an inning and gave up four runs - three earned - on four hits and a walk.
Key player: RHP Aaron Pribanic gave up just one run in six innings for the Curve.
Key play: Altoona scored four runs in the first, jumpstarted by a leadoff triple from CF Starling Marte.
Key stat: Marte broke Nate McLouth's Curve record of 166 hits in a season and now has 168.
How they scored
Top 1st: Marte tripled, scored on Holt double (1-0); Lambo single scored Holt (2-0); Farrell singled, scored on T. Sanchez sacrifice fly (3-0); Lambo scored on Gamboa error (4-0).
Bottom 6th: Waring solo homer (4-1).
Top 9th: Rodriguez singled, scored on Farrell bases-loaded walk (5-1).