MIDLAND, Mich. - The Bird was definitely the word on Duck Dynasty Night at Dow Diamond Friday.
From the pitching of Loons starter Zachary Bird - and, for that matter, the entire Loons staff - to the flock of seagulls that seemed determined to settle in the outfield grass in the later innings, to the appearance of Duck Dynasty's Justin Martin, it was a night for the winged at heart.
It was also another night of sharp play by the Loons, who one-hit the visiting Lansing Lugnuts while taking advantage of two throwing errors for a 2-1 win before 3,619 fans. The Loons have won three games in a row and improved to 33-35 in the first-half. With two games remaining before the All-Star break, they have a chance to finish the half with a .500 record.
"That's not something we're talking about," said Loons manager Bill Haselman. "If it was a full season and not halves then, yeah, it might be more important. We're just concerned about playing well as we get ready to start the second half."
Bird and relievers Kyle Hooper, Victor Araujo and Mark Pope combined for the fifth one-hitter in Loons franchise history. Bird was making his first start in 10 days, but he struck out the side to open the game and gave up only a third inning single to Matt Dean.
"I got really bored watching all these other guys compete," said Bird, whose rest was planned by the Loons parent club, the Los Angeles Dodgers. "It was a long 10 days, so it was great to get back out there."
Hooper pitched two scoreless, hitless innings, while Araujo pitched yet another scoreless inning, dropping his ERA to 1.07.
"I just wanted to pound the zone," Hooper said. "Bird set the example and I wanted to continue where he left off. We've got a good defense behind us, so we're not afraid to throw strikes."
Pope, one of three Loons on the Midwest League Eastern Division All-Star team, notched his ninth save while pitching a scoreless bottom of the ninth. He closed out the win by fanning Jorge Saez, leaving his ERA at 0.67.
Both of the Loons runs were created by their running game and the shaky throwing of Saez behind the plate. Malcolm Holland led off the Loons first with a walk, stole second and then scampered to third when Saez's throw sailed into centerfield. He then came home on Kyle Farmer's one-out single.
"Early in the year Holland was getting on base a lot, stealing bases, and it really made us a better team," Haselman said. "It's good to see him getting on base again and creating runs."
Lansing tied the game in the third when Bird walked two batters and gave up Dean's run-scoring single. But the Loons immediately repeated the process in the bottom of the third when Dillon Moyer led off with a single, stole second and took third on another errant Saez throw. He came home on Holland's single up the middle.
Bird walked Chaz Frank with two outs in the fifth inning, while Hooper walked Saez leading off the seventh, but other than that the Lugnuts had no other baserunners over the final six innings.
The two teams resume their three-game series tomorrow night (7:05 p.m.) at Dow Diamond. Brandon Martinez (1-2, 3.27 ERA) starts for the Loons while 29-year-old knuckleballer Frank Viola III starts for Lansing.
Tomorrow's activities include a postgame Fireworks Loontacular powered by Dow Corning.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information, call 989-837-BALL or visit loons.com.