At least in the short term, the Ducks appear to have found the consistency they sorely lacked in the first half. One week after seeing their first-half championship hopes end at the hands of the worst team in the league — the Road Warriors — the Ducks completed a sweep of the league’s best team, topping the Sugar Land Skeeters, 5-3, in front of 4,580 at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip on Sunday.
The Ducks are 3-0 in the second half and 33-33 overall entering the All-Star break.
After Ducks starter Bennett Parry pitched seven shutout innings, Francisco Rodriguez allowed three runs in the ninth before striking out Matt Chavez with a man on to end it.
“At that moment, I was just trying to take the power away from him,” Rodriguez said. “I know he’s a line-drive hitter, so I pretty much threw everything off-speed . . . I was looking for him to chase.”
Even though Rodriguez didn’t have his best stuff in the ninth, the six-time MLB All-Star showed he still can handle adversity.
“You have to find a way to get it done and go back to the dugout with a ‘W,’ ” Rodriguez said. “Whether it be a nice play or a strikeout at the end of the game, you have to always keep fighting and not put your head down.”
Parry bounced back from his first bad start in weeks and returned to the form that the Ducks know and need. The lefty, who will start for the Liberty Division in Wednesday’s Atlantic League All-Star Game at Bethpage Ballpark, yielded four hits, walked four and struck out 10. He leads the Atlantic League in strikeouts with 104.
Parry, who has struck out at least 10 batters in six of his 12 starts, kept the game scoreless by striking out Chavez with the bases loaded to end the top of the third and struck out the side in the fifth. He ended the sixth by striking out Denis Phipps with a runner on third.
“That’s when you have to be at your highest focus,” Parry said. “I’ve always had that ability to work out of jams. It’s something that I take a lot of pride in. You just try to take it one pitch at a time. It’s definitely easier if you get ahead in the count and you can dictate what happens there, and I was able to do that.”
Cody Puckett led off the bottom of the fifth by homering off losing pitcher Ben Griset to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning, former Met Jordany Valdespin’s single drove in Audie Afenir from second to put the Ducks ahead 2-0. Puckett’s three-run double in the eighth made it 5-0.