MIDLAND, Mich. - The Great Lakes Loons seemed to have Bowling Green's Hot Rods just where they wanted them Saturday - in a tight game, at home and riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak.
But then things went south for the Loons.
Bowling Green took advantage of some defensive lapses by the Loons, as well of a rare bullpen breakdown, to claim a 5-2 victory at Dow Diamond. The Hot Rods scored the go-ahead run in the eighth when a ball was misjudged in the outfield, then added three more in the ninth thanks to a pair of outfield errors.
The Loons also gave up a run in the first inning when Bowling Green's Juniel Querecuto reached first on an infield single which could have easily been an out. Querecuto then scored on a double by Granden Goetzman.
"You know, at this level you're going to see mistakes like this every now and then," said Loons manager Bill Haselman. "They're learning. You just have to learn from your mistakes and move on."
The Loons had their share of bright spots, too. Starting pitcher Jonathan Martinez threw seven mostly-flawless innings, scattering six hits while walking none. Martinez has allowed only six walks in 51 innings pitched this season.
"He was great," said Haselman. "He pitched to contact, which is what we want all of our guys to do."
Third baseman Paul Hoenecke drove home the Loons first run with a towering shot over the right field fence in the sixth inning. It was Hoenecke's team-leading fourth home run of the season.
Hoenecke's homer tied the score at 1-1, which it remained until the eighth when Loons reliever Michael Johnson took over for Martinez. Johnson, who entered the game with a 1.29 earned run average, gave up a leadoff single to Yoel Araujo, who was bunted to second by Alexander Simon.
Querecuto then lined a ball to left that Loons outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo misjudged, allowing Simon to score. The Hot Rods scored three in the ninth as Johnson gave up three more hits but had two errors behind him.
Bowling Green starter Blake Snell threw five scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, and escaped unscathed in the fifth despite giving up a leadoff triple to Spencer Navin.
The Loons scored a run in the ninth when Jesmuel Valentin walked and came home on Webster Rivas' double, but pinch hitter Kyle Farmer lined out sharply to center with two runners on to end the threat.
The series concludes Sunday at 5:05 p.m. The Loons will start right-hander Zachary Bird (2-5, 4.57 ERA), who has a 2.34 ERA over his past four starts. He'll be opposed by the Hot Rods' Jacob Faria (2-2, 3.28). Faria was a 10th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.
Tomorrow is Family Fun in the SUNDay at the ballpark. Following the game, kids can run the bases courtesy of Farm Bureau Insurance.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and information about the team, call 989-837-BALL, or visit loons.com.