Sounds, Figueroa on different kids of streaks

Tuesday, August 7, 2001 at 1:00am

Luis Figueroa and the Nashville Sounds are streaking in opposite directions.

After having a season-best 18-game hitting streak snapped Saturday night, Figueroa responded with a season-high five-hit performance in the Sounds' come-from-behind 7-6 Pacific Coast League baseball triumph Sunday night at Fresno.

During a telephone interview with a reporter for The City Paper this weekend, Figueroa admitted he "didn't know about the hitting streak until two days ago (Aug. 2). One of the guys on the team told me, 'You've got a 16-game hitting streak.' I said, 'Oh, really.' I guess he had read it on the statistics."

Sunday night, the member of the PCL's all-star team that played the best of the International League July 11 saw his batting average improve to .309 with the five-hit performance. Saturday he went a combined 0-for-5 against both Grizzlies' starter Ryan Jenson and reliever Robbie Crabtree. The Sounds lost that game, 6-4, and went 2-6 on the eight-game road trip.

"I'm feeling comfortable at the plate," said Figueroa, whose team faces the Sacramento RiverCats in Game 2 of the four-game series at Greer Stadium tonight at 7. "I'm swinging at every pitch that's close in the strike zone."

In the last couple of weeks, Figueroa moved from No. 2 to the top of the Sounds' batting order after center fielder Tike Redman, another PCL mid-season all-star, was promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Nashville's parent ball club.

"I feel comfortable hitting at the top of the order," said Figueroa, who ranks third on the team with 44 runs scored and is 8 of 12 in stolen-base attempts. "They kind of pitch you the same way like they do when you're the No. 9 hitter."

"I've been getting on base a lot (via hits, walks and errors) so I've been scoring a lot of runs," he added.

Figueroa said he likes how newcomers Bryant Nelson and Ryan Radmanovich have contributed to the club offensively. Going into Monday night's game with Sacramento, Radmanovich was hitting for a .333 average in 14 games while Nelson was hitting .280 with 10 runs batted in. He hit two home runs Saturday and has three in the past three games.

"The guys that have come over here are good guys and good hitters," Figueroa said.

He also is complimentary of tonight's starting pitcher, Ryan Vogelsong (0-0, 6.00 earned run average with the Sounds).

"He's pitching well," Figueroa said. "I faced him [when he pitched against us] in Nashville. I didn't do anything against him. He had the regular stuff

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