Lugs Slip Past Mistake-Prone Dragons
LANSING, Mich. - A sixth-inning passed ball by catcher Morgan Lofstrom led to Yorman Rodriguez racing home with the tie-breaking run, lifting the opportunistic Lansing Lugnuts (30-26, 62-63) to a 4-3 victory over the Dayton Dragons (23-33, 51-75) on Monday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
All four Lugnuts runs were unearned, thanks to two crucial Dragons errors in addition to the decisive passed ball.
With the South Bend Cubs losing 5-3 in Great Lakes, the Nuts moved back within one game of the Cubs for the Eastern Division wild card with 14 games to play in the regular season.
First baseman Rodriguez led off the bottom of the sixth against Dayton starter Adrian Rodriguez (Loss, 5-3), no relation, with a liner to right field dropped by Mariel Bautista for a two-base error. He moved to third on a Rodriguez wild pitch and then raced home when Lofstrom couldn't handle a Rodriguez pitch to Griffin Conine.
The Lugnuts' bullpen took it the rest of the way. Juan Nuñez relieved starter Fitz Stadler with a perfect seventh inning, striking out one. Jose Espada recorded the first two outs in the eighth before yielding to Marcus Reyes (Save, 2), who pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, stranding a two-out triple by Juan Martinez in the ninth by coaxing a popout from Jay Schuyler to end the game.
The Dragons had grabbed a 3-0 lead with three runs, two earned, on four hits in the top of the third inning off Lugnuts starter Stadler (Win, 5-6). The 6-foot-9 right-hander did not allow anything further in his six innings, allowing only one other base runner (a fourth-inning single) while striking out six in his third straight quality start.
The Lugnuts answered in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Tanner Kirwer was hit by an Adrian Rodriguez pitch. Yorman Rodriguez then grounded to third, where Juan Martinez muffed it to keep the inning alive. That brought up Gabriel Moreno, who drilled a three-run homer to right to tie the score.
Lugnuts shortstop Otto Lopez, currently in the midst of a 19-game hitting streak, had the game off.
The Lugnuts look to take three of four from the Dragons in the homestand finale on Tuesday, a Taco Tuesday matinee beginning at 12:05 p.m. Lansing right-hander Troy Watson (3.32 ERA) takes on Dragons right-hander Lyon Richardson (4.54) in the starting matchup. To live the Lug Life and purchase tickets, visit lansinglugnuts.com, call (517) 485-4500 or come to the Cooley Law School Stadium box office at 505 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Lansing.
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