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09/19/2009 12:09 AM ET
Horton powers 'Hounds to 2-1 lead
Blasts two solo homers as Midland closes in on Texas League title
Josh Horton hit .263 with five homers and 62 RBIs in 125 games this season. (Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com)

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Josh Horton broke out of his postseason slump with two big swings Friday night as the Midland RockHounds moved within one win of their first Texas League championship since 2005.

Horton belted a pair of solo homers and Shane Peterson fell a triple shy of the cycle while driving in two runs as Midland powered its way to a 9-7 victory over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in Game 3 of the best-of-5 Finals.

After managing only three singles in his first 25 playoff at-bats, Horton launched a leadoff blast over the right-field wall in the sixth inning.

The 23-year-old shortstop started the eighth with a line drive that again cleared the fence in right as the RockHounds opened a 9-3 lead en route to their second straight win following an 11-5 loss in Tuesday's series opener.

Peterson, acquired in the trade deadline deal that sent All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday to St. Louis, struck out in the opening frame before ripping an RBI double in the third, belting a solo shot -- his second postseason homer -- in the fifth and leading off the seventh with a single.

Midland starter Kyle Middleton (2-0) was the beneficiary of a six-run lead after three innings. The 29-year-old right-hander, who earned two Texas League Pitcher of the Week awards in August, held the Naturals scoreless over the first four frames before yielding three runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out six.

Texas League All-Star Blake Johnson (0-1) took the loss after surrendering six runs -- four earned -- on five hits and three walks with two strikeouts over 2 1/3 frames.

Corey Smith made things interesting with a three-run homer in the eighth and Jarrod Dyson doubled and scored in the ninth for Northwest Arkansas. But Jared Lansford fanned David Lough for the final out and his first save of the playoffs.

Corey Brown hit a two-run homer in the third for Midland, which can wrap up the championship on Saturday afternoon.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.