They had a chance to pull into a first-place tie with their long-time rival. Instead, the Winnipeg Goldeyes gave the St. Paul Saints a bit more breathing room.
The Minnesota visitors beat their friendly Manitoba hosts 8-5 at Shaw Park on Friday night. St. Paul (18-9) now owns a two-game lead over Winnipeg (16-11) in the race for the Central Division title, with still nearly three-quarters of the season still to play.
Winnipeg got off to a quick start, opening the scoring in the first inning with some help from the Saints. Outfielder Josh Romanski singled, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error and then came home on a wild pitch.
Goldeyes pitcher Kevin McGovern had a rough second inning, giving up two doubles, two walks and a single – yet surrendering just one run. He can thank second baseman Mason Katz, who gunned down a St. Paul runner at the home plate to minimize the damage.
McGovern wouldn't be as fortunate in the fourth as St. Paul scored three runs, putting Winnipeg in a hole they could never fully climb out of.
Goldeyes designated hitter David Bergin did his part in the bottom of the inning, crushing a solo home run to the deepest part of Shaw Park. Shortstop Andrew Sohn plated another in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.
McGovern would settle down, going six innings while giving up four runs (three earned). He had entered the game with a perfect 4-0 record to start the season.
Rookie reliever Brandon Quintero came out for the seventh, giving up a walk and a pair of run-scoring doubles as St. Paul extended their lead.
Bergin answered back in the bottom of the seventh by hammering another homer, this time a two-run shot to left field. Bergin now has seven homers on the season, which is second-best in the American Association.
Quintero struggled again in the eighth, giving up another run to the Saints. St. Paul added one more in the ninth off rookie reliever Kenny Mathews to finish off the scoring.
Winnipeg and St. Paul play again on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the annual "Bark In The Park" game where fans will attempt to break a Guinness World Record for most dogs to witness a live sporting event. They'll need 1,123 canines to do so. The teams conclude their series on Sunday at 1 p.m.