MANCHESTER — Three batters into the game, Fisher Cats starting pitcher Chad Jenkins already had given up two home runs. So goes the struggle of 2012.
The first-place New Britain Rock Cats pounded New Hampshire, 7-2, dropping the Fisher Cats into the division basement Wednesday night.
Playing at home has been a headache. The Eastern League defending champs have won only eight of 26 games at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The Fisher Cats dropped to 20-30 overall (tied for last with Portland), slipping 9½ games behind New Britain
In the first inning, Aaron Hicks and Chris Herrmann hit back-to-back homers off Jenkins, who came off the disabled list (shoulder) and pitched four innings. Relievers Scott Gracey and Danny Farquhar gave up five more runs, and the Rock Cats (30-21) took a 7-0 lead in the seventh inning.
New Britain starter B.J. Hermsen didn’t allow a hit until Brian Bocock’s single in the fifth inning. The Twins farmhand stayed on hill for 8-2/3 innings, yielding two runs on seven hits. The big righty was chased in the ninth on a Bocock double.
In the seventh, Brian Van Kirk broke the shutout with a wall-ball double that plated Mark Sobolewski. Mike McDade followed with a run-scoring single, extending to 10 games his hitting streak. McDade’s .324 average ranks fourth in the league.
New Britain leadoff hitter Estarlin de los Santos had two hits, and Matt Rizzotti drove in a pair of runs with a bases-loaded double as the Rock Cats banged out 10 hits. Hermsen (2-1) struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. Jenkins (2-4) took the loss after giving up two earned runs on three hits.