Angel Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Monday afternoon, but Great Lakes was unable to close out the victory in a 3-1 loss to visiting Wisconsin.
The Timber Rattlers' win completed a three-game sweep and sent the Loons to a season-high fifth consecutive loss.
Sanchez, the Dodgers' No. 8 prospect, was coming off a pair of rough outings on the road, having allowed five earned runs over five innings at both Cedar Rapids on April 25 and Quad Cities last Tuesday, leaving the 23-year-old with a 1-3 record and 5.88 ERA over five starts.
"My fastball command was better today," Sanchez said after the game. "I was able to get ahead of hitters with the fastball and then use my slider."
Signed by the Dodgers out of Santo Domingo Autonomous University in July 2010, Sanchez had a brilliant debut season with Great Lakes in 2011, going 8-4 with a 2.82 ERA and holding Midwest League hitters to a .198 average.
His 2012 campaign at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, however, was a disaster. In 27 games with the Quakes, Sanchez posted a 6.58 ERA and allowed 26 home runs. In the second half of the season, he lost nine consecutive decisions and had an ERA of 8.75 -- worst in the Minors.
"I'm trying to get back to pitching the way I did [with Great Lakes] in 2011. In Rancho I got into trouble leaving the ball up in the zone," he said.
Despite the struggles, Sanchez's live arm and mid-90s fastball continue to intrigue. Back in the Midwest League to start the 2013 season, he took a big step forward with his performance Monday.
Sanchez was unfazed by the 10:35 a.m. start -- "I went to bed early last night," he said -- and retired the first 10 Timber Rattlers batters he faced before issuing a one-out walk to Wisconsin right fielder Michael Reed in the fourth inning. Reed stole second but went no further as Sanchez struck out Mitch Haniger and Brewers No. 8 prospect Victor Roache to end the threat.
After a perfect fifth and sixth, Sanchez's no-hit bid was spoiled by a leadoff double to center field by Reed, who moved to third on Roache's groundout. Sanchez ended his day by fanning Wisconsin first baseman Adam Giacalone for his eighth punchout. It was his longest outing since a seven-inning start for Rancho Cucamonga at High Desert last June 14.
Sanchez's strong outing was nearly matched by Wisconsin starter Eric Semmelhack, who allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out four over six scoreless frames.
There was still no score in the eighth inning when Wisconsin took advantage of a walk, a wild pitch, an error and three two-out singles off Loons reliever Jonathan Martinez to score three runs.
Great Lakes responded in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff single by first baseman Jesus Valdez and a double from left fielder Pat Stover. Jesmuel Valentin's sacrifice fly got the Loons on the board, but Stover was left stranded as James Baldwin and Kevin Taylor went down in order.
A two-out walk in the ninth allowed Great Lakes to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of third baseman Paul Hoenecke, but Hoenecke grounded out softly to second base to end the game.
Martinez fell to 0-2 with the loss, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks over two innings. He struck out one.
Wisconsin reliever Preston Gainey (1-3), an 11th-round pick by the Brewers last June after opting to forgo his final two years at the U.S. Naval Academy, earned his first professional victory. Gainey gave up one run on three hits in three innings, walking one and fanning one.
The Timber Rattlers improved to 9-6 on the road and 13-14 overall with their fifth straight win, while Great Lakes fell 8 1/2 games behind first-place South Bend with its fifth consecutive loss.