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Hard-luck life for Herd's Schwinden

There's bad luck and then there's the worse-luck life Bisons pitcher Chris Schwinden has been leading.

Sent to Toronto to join the New York Mets last weekend, he followed the team to Pittsburgh before being told to return to Buffalo. But instead of driving the 3 1/2 -hour trip from the Steel City, the Mets first flew Schwinden to New York, where his connector was canceled and he had to take a Towne car to Binghamton and spend the night.

A flat tire later, Schwinden's car finished the drive Tuesday morning, in time for him to throw four uneven innings in the Bisons' matinee loss to Indianapolis. So what happens Sunday? Schwinden feels refreshed and pitches well -- only to suffer a 1-0 defeat to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Scranton first baseman Steve Pearce drove home the game's only run with a solo homer to left-center on the first pitch he saw with one out in the bottom of the sixth. And just like April 22 in Syracuse, Schwinden was a 1-0 loser.

"Great defense, great calling by [catcher] Lucas May," Schwinden said. "What more can you ask for? Left one pitch up in the zone and it gets hit. That's the way it goes sometimes. I'm not disappointed with the outing."

"It's tough," said manager Wally Backman. "There always seems to be that one guy you don't score a lot of runs for. Unfortunately, it's been Schwinden."

Sure has. Schwinden is just 3-4 despite a 2.59 earned-run average. The Bisons are averaging only 2.7 runs per game for him -- but no fewer than 4.5 for any of their other starters. They had scored 21 runs in the first three games of this series, too.

Scranton veteran Ramon Ortiz, who won Game Three of the 2002 World Series for the Anaheim Angels in San Francisco, pitched 6 2/3 innings to improve to 3-3 and help the Yankees earn a four-game split.

"We were trying anything we could to push a run across but just didn't do anything against him," said Buffalo leadoff man Corey Wimberly, who was 0 for 4 Sunday after reaching base 10 times in the first three games. "He was locating all of his pitches. He was really on."

On Pearce's home run, his team-high 10th, Schwinden threw an 88-mph fastball that he wanted to get down and away but simply caught too much plate. The fleet Wimberly made a beeline for the wall and jumped at the fence, nearly bringing the ball back.

"It was just inches over my glove," Wimberly said. "I really thought I had a bead on it."

"It carried a long ways," Backman said. "He hit it with one hand. That's why I didn't think it would go out. But it carried to the wall. Big, strong guy."

Schwinden struck out six, walked three and allowed four hits in his 5 2/3 -inning stint. He was 8-8 with a 3.95 ERA in 26 starts for the Bisons last year, getting the nod as Buffalo's pitcher of the and the team's lone representative to the Triple-A All-Star Game.

Schwinden made two starts so far this year for the Mets, but is 0-1, 11.25 after giving up 10 earned runs in games at Houston and Colorado.

"You can't get discouraged," Schwinden said. "You are getting thought about up there and getting opportunities. The big thing is to not have one foot in each level. You've got to have your mind down here working on things and fix yourself so you can be better the next time you get an opportunity up there."

The Bisons were blanked Sunday despite getting nine hits. They were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, left seven men on base and committed a couple baserunning errors that short-circuited rallies.

Second baseman Jordany Valdespin and third baseman Michael Fisher both singled twice but Valdespin was caught stealing both times. Outfielder Fred Lewis doubled twice to boost his average to .308.