Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fish come up just short

Fall to Explorers, but still in running for wild card

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You know it's going to be a long night of baseball when there's 11 runs scored and 13 hits after just three innings.

It was a long one at three-and-a-half hours on Wednesday night but the Winnipeg Goldeyes (54-41) likely wished they could have played longer as they dropped a 10-9 decision to the Sioux City Explorers (42-53) before 6,167 fans at Shaw Park. Spot starter Zach Baldwin lasted only 2 1/3 innings and took the loss for the Goldeyes, who used five pitchers. The Goldeyes stole five bases in the game, three of those by centre-fielder Chris Roberson. Sioux City hit six doubles.

Winnipeg's magic number to clinch the American Association's wild-card playoff berth is now three after the St. Paul Saints lost 2-1 to Gary.

Winnipeg and Sioux City meet again today for the third game of a four-game series, which is part of Winnipeg's final homestand of the regular season. The Goldeyes took the first game 5-3 on Tuesday. The pitching matchups are expected to be Winnipeg's Ace Walker (9-4, 3.56) and Sioux City lefty Richard Salazar (7-7, 4.29).

The Goldeyes, trailing 10-8, tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth with Roberson and de Caster getting aboard with back-to-back singles. Roberson scored on a Josh Mazzola fly out but that was all the Goldeyes could muster.

The Goldeyes scored four runs in the first inning to lead 4-1 but Sioux City responded with two in the second and three in the third while Winnipeg put up just one in the third to trail 6-5. Sioux City scored one in the sixth and two in the seventh to go up 9-5 before Winnipeg was able to score again, picking up one in the bottom of the seventh for a 9-6 Sioux City lead. Winnipeg scored two in the eighth inning but the Explorers added their 10th run in the top of the ninth.

The Goldeyes were led by Mazzola, playing first base after playing right field Tuesday, who had two hits, three RBI, scored two runs and stole a base.

"The last seven or eight weeks, he's been pretty good, played multiple positions for us and he's driven in important runs," said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney. "That's a good sign of a good hitter. He's got a lot of extra-base hits, he's really having a great season. I think he should be under some heavy consideration to be one of the league all-star outfielders this year."

Mazzola said the team is not number-watching in pursuit of the wild card.

"It gets brought up but I don't think we want to concentrate on that. We want to concentrate on going out and playing. We got in a little funk where we put too much pressure on ourselves. Now when the pressure is actually here, we're just performing."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 30, 2012 D4

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