A ninth-inning hiccup was enough to sink the Winnipeg Goldeyes in a tight 7-6 loss to the St. Paul Saints at Shaw Park Thursday night.
The Goldeyes led 6-5 heading into the ninth, but a two-run home run by Saints first baseman Brian Burgamy put a damper on the Fish's chances of a wild-card playoff spot.
The Gary SouthShore RailCats, current holders of the wild-card playoff spot in the American Association, defeated the Kansas City T-Bones 5-3 Thursday night to increase their lead in the race. The Fish are now 21/2 games back with only four games left in the regular season.
If Winnipeg and Gary finish the regular season with the same number of wins, the RailCats will earn the wild-card spot with a 6-1 record in head-to-head games between the teams.
Some 6,178 fans at Shaw Park got their money's worth in what was the longest nine-inning game (three hours, 41 minutes) for the Fish this season. The Saints finished with 16 hits and the Goldeyes had 12.
The Goldeyes fell behind early in the game, but solid relief pitching courtesy of Brendan Lafferty in the middle innings helped the Goldeyes gain a run in the sixth inning. Closer Partick Keating took the loss for the Goldeyes after giving up Burgamy's blast.
The Saints opened up the scoring in the first inning when right-fielder Brandon Tripp hit a grounder to second base. It set up a double-play, but allowed base runner Andy Henkemeyer to score from third with the first run of the evening. In the bottom of the inning, Winnipeg's Yurendell de Caster hit his second home run with a two-run blast over the left-field wall and take a 2-1 lead.
The Saints took advantage of Goldeyes starting pitcher Matt Rusch in the second inning, hitting three singles back to back to back to load the bases, scoring once on a wild pitch and scoring another on an RBI single by Jeremy Mayo.
But the Goldeyes kept the Saints close, allowing only one hit in the third and fourth innings. Goldeyes shortstop Josh Mazzola cracked a solo home run on the first pitch of the fourth inning. Mazzola's 16th round-tripper of the year pulled the Goldeyes to within one. However, the Saints matched that in the top of the fifth with an RBI single courtesy of third baseman Joey Becker to lead 5-3.
In the bottom of the sixth the Goldeyes hit three doubles and scored three runs to take a 6-5 lead. First, Sadler opened with a double, Casey Haerther got on base with an error and both advanced on a wild pitch. Luis Alen then stroked a two- run double to tie the game and Amos Ramon hit a double of his own to bring Alen home in with the go-ahead run.
Both teams played scoreless seventh and eighth frames.
The teams complete their four-game series tonight at Shaw Park.