GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers got a huge favor from the Peoria Chiefs. Unfortunately, the Rattlers couldn't do themselves a favor as they lost 4-2 to the Quad Cities River Bandits Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Wisconsin could not hold a slim, early lead and could not pick up ground in the second half playoff chase.
Victor Roache gave the Timber Rattlers (59-71 overall, 30-35 second half) the lead in the first inning. Roache drove in Orlando Arcia from second base with a two-out single to center.
Wisconsin starting pitcher Austin Ross went five scoreless innings. He walked the first batter of the game, but retired the next thirteen River Bandits hitters. Roberto Pena snapped the streak with a one-out single in the top of the fifth, but he was stranded when the inning ended. Ross struck out seven, walked two, and turned a 1-0 lead over to Alan Williams in the top of the sixth.
The left-handed Williams walked two of the first three Bandits batters he faced in the top of the sixth. That brought lefty Danry Vazquez to the plate. He pulled a 1-0 pitch inside the first base line. The ball got into the corner for a triple that scored both runners and the Rattlers trailed 2-1.
Wisconsin brought the infield in with Vasquez at third and Rio Ruiz at bat. Third baseman Mike Garza dove at the liner off the bat of Ruiz, but the ball glanced Garza's glove into left field for an RBI to make it 3-1.
Quad Cities starter Chris Devenski tossed six innings, allowed the run in the first inning, allowed four hits, and struck out two.
The Rattlers got to reliever Richard Rodriguez in the sixth. Garza tripled to right-center with one out. Max Walla drove in Garza with a sacrifice fly and the Rattlers were down a run. Dustin Houle reached on an error with two outs in the sixth, but Wisconsin could not take advantage.
Williams walked Tony Kemp to start the top of the eighth and gave up an infield single with one out. Wisconsin went to the bullpen to bring Taylor Wall in to face Vasquez. Wall got Vasquez to line a one-hopper at second baseman Adrian Williams for a potential inning ending double play. But, the ball deflected off Williams into centerfield. That allowed Kemp to score the run that put the River Bandits (77-56, 39-25) up 4-2.
There would be no late rallies for the Timber Rattlers on Wednesday night. Wisconsin went down in order in the eighth inning against Mitchell Lambson and in order in the ninth inning against Andrew Walter.
The Timber Rattlers missed a huge opportunity to pick up ground in the Western Division Wild Card race. The Clinton LumberKings, the team that led the Rattlers by a game in the standings heading into Wednesday's game, lost 7-6 in twelve innings at Peoria. Clinton lost their seventh straight game despite four home runs and leads of 4-0 and 6-3 to fall to 31-34 in the second half.
Wisconsin still trails the LumberKings by a game in the playoff chase. Wisconsin needs to finish a game in front of Clinton to claim the playoff spot. If the teams end in a tie, Clinton holds the tie-break on the basis of defeating the Timber Rattlers in the season series between the teams.
Game two of the series is Thursday night. Ryan Gibbard (4-6, 5.49) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Joe Bircher (3-3, 4.11) is set to start for the River Bandits. Game time is 7:05pm.
Thursday night is the final Arty's Old Fashioned/95.9 KISS FM Thirsty Thursday. Fans may enjoy 16oz soda, beer, and Arty's Old Fashioned drinks for just $2 as part of Thirsty Thursday. Plus, Clint Coulter was the choice for the Fans' Choice Bobblehead. The first 1,000 to attend this game receive the bobblehead of one of Milwaukee's two first round picks - and the 27th overall pick - in the 2012 draft.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:45pm. Thursday's game is also available to MiLB.TV subscribers.
WP: Chris Devenski (4-3)
LP: Alan Williams (0-1)