ERIE - The season is collapsing for the Curve, who for the second straight year started off with high expectations before turning into a big disappointment.
A nine-game losing streak did in the team last season, and Sunday the Curve dropped their sixth in a row, 4-2 at Erie, to fall to 13-22. That's the second-worst record in the Eastern League, and the club has done nothing well enough so far to believe the losing ways will stop any time soon.
While Altoona has struggled, Erie is the hottest team in the league with five straight wins.
The Curve are off today, then travel to Bowie for a three-game series starting Tuesday. The team's fortunes hinge on improving in many key areas, most notably on the road, where the Curve's 4-14 record is the worst in the league.
Altoona fell behind right off the bat Sunday as Erie's Jamie Johnson hit a leadoff homer in the first off Matt McSwain. Rob Brantly singled two batters later and scored on a single by Ben Guez for a 2-0 lead.
The SeaWolves made it 4-0 in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Johnson and RBI single by Niuman Romero.
Next up: Altoona at Bowie, Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
Altoona cut the deficit in half with single runs in the sixth and seventh.
Robbie Grossman reached on an error and scored on Matt Curry's RBI single in the sixth. Anthony Norman singled and came home on an RBI groundout by Grossman in the seventh to make it 4-2.
The Curve didn't threaten in the seventh or eighth and put one runner on in the ninth but drew no closer.
McSwain (2-1) allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings for the loss.
Erie starter Kelvin De La Cruz gave up two runs - one earned - on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings for the win. Michael Morrison pitched the ninth for his third save.
Norman and Kelson Brown each went 2-for-4 for the Curve, and Brown raised his average to .320.
LHP Kris Johnson was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. The reliever is 0-0 with a 2.08 ERA in seven games (three starts).
Key player: Erie CF Jamie Johnson went 1-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs.
Key play: Johnson's homer to open the bottom of the first put the Curve in an immediate hole.
Key stat: The Curve have lost six in a row and are 4-14 on the road.
How they scored
Bottom 1st: Johnson solo homer (0-1); Brantly singled, scored on Guez single (0-2).
Bottom 5th: Bishop singled, scored on Johnson sacrifice fly (0-3); Murrian singled, scored on Romero single (0-4).
Top 6th: Grossman reached on Bishop error, scored on Curry single (1-4).
Top 7th: Norman singled, scored on Grossman groundout (2-4).