Peoria, IL- The Cedar Rapids Kernels scored once in the fourth and added two more runs in the seventh on their way to a 3-1 win over the Peoria Chiefs on Sunday. The loss dropped the Chiefs to 65-57 overall and 27-28 in the second half, a game behind Clinton for the final playoff spot in the Western Division after the LumberKings beat Kane County 4-2.
After leaving runners on base in the second and third innings the Kernels scored the first run of the game in the fourth off Kyle Helisek. With one out Mike Gonzales hit his second home run of the season putting the Kernels up 1-0. Helisek retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.
The Chiefs just missed tying the game in the fourth inning after putting two on base against Josue Montanez. With one out Bruce Caldwell walked and moved to second on an Ildemaro Vargas single. With two outs Juan Herrera hit a line drive to right-center, but Jonathan Murphy made a sliding catch to rob Herrera of a hit and preserve the Kernels 1-0 lead.
The Kernels added to their lead with a pair of runs in the seventh inning following a couple defensive blunders by the Chiefs. With two strikes Helisek plunked Travis Harrison who advanced to second as Gerwuins Velazco's pickoff attempt ended up in right field. Joel Licon singled to left field and Breyvic Valera bobbled the ball as he attempted to field it allowing Harrison to score from second and extend the Kernels lead to 2-0 while Licon reached second. After Helisek struck out the next two batters, Murphy knocked in Licon with a single and moved to second on the throw home. Joe Donofrio replaced Helisek and struck out Niko Goodrum to end the inning with the Kernels up 3-0.
After stranding two runners on in the seventh inning the Chiefs broke through against Montanez with a run in the eighth. Charlie Tilson and Valera reached on back-to-back singles and both moved up on a wild pitch. With a pair in scoring position Jeremy Schaffer drove in Tilson with a sac fly to right field while Valera advanced to third. Montanez struck out Caldwell and was replaced by Brad Gilbert who retired Trevor Martin on a chopper to short to end the inning with the Kernels up 3-1. The two-run lead would hold for the Kernels as the Chiefs went down in order in the ninth inning.
Helisek (7-5) pitched 6 2/3 innings giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and no walks while striking out a career-high tying eight batters. Donofrio pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings while fanning two. Joe Scanio pitched a hitless ninth while striking out one.
Notes: Vargas recorded his 24th multi-hit game of the season and extended his hitting streak to five games…Helisek had pitched 5 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run against Cedar Rapids this season prior to the homer in the fourth…The home run was the first hit off Helisek since Clinton homered against the lefty on May 18…Donofrio has retired 32 of the first 36 batters he has faced this season…Tilson notched his 30th multi-hit game while reaching base for the 10th consecutive contest…The Chiefs last had four errors on May 18 in a 10-7 loss against Clinton…Velazco committed just his third error in 67 games behind home plate…The Chiefs have recorded 15 hits in the series but only nine runners have reached scoring position…The Chiefs are 7-7 against the Kernels…The loss is the Chiefs first three-game home losing streak of the season…The Chiefs continue their series with the Kernels on Monday at 6:30 p.m… Monday is Markdown Mania Monday with half price tickets as Club Box Seats are $5.00 and Lawn Seats are $3.50…The Chiefs start LH Ben O'Shea (1-3, 6.75) against Kernels RH Tim Shibuya (0-1, 1.98)… The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Premier Print Group Pre-Game Show at 6:15 p.m. on www.peoriachiefs.com/listenlive which also has downloads for a free app on the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.