MIDLAND, Mich. - Great Lakes Loons pitcher Scott Barlow had to coax himself through a troublesome first inning Wednesday at Dow Diamond. After that, however, the burden fell on Fort Wayne's hitters.
Barlow threw five shutout innings against the TinCaps while his teammates continued their timely hitting in a 3-0 Loons win before 3,025 fans at Dow Diamond. The win was the fourth in a row for the Loons, who are 10-9 in the second half. For Fort Wayne, the loss was a franchise-record 11th straight.
Barlow (3-3) gave up back-to-back singles to Dustin Peterson and Fernando Perez with one out in the first inning, but got out of the inning on a ground ball, and on a strikeout of Jake Bauers - the Midwest League's leading hitter.
"I thought my fastball command was pretty good in the first inning but I just needed to bring the ball down," said Barlow. "After that I was able to attack the hitters better."
Barlow gave way to the Loons bullpen in the sixth and relievers Michael Johnson, Jordan Hershiser and Matt Campbell combined to pitch four scoreless innings. It was the 10th game of the second half in which the Loons allowed three runs or less.
Offensively, meanwhile, the Loons continued to get timely hitting while also manufacturing runs. They scored a run in the second inning off of Fort Wayne starter Jeffery Enloe on three consecutive singles, the last being a bloop RBI hit to rightfield by Spencer Navin.
They scored two more in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Paul Hoenecke - their third sac fly in two nights - and a double by Josmar Cordero down the line in left (Cordero's third two-bagger in two nights).
"We're trying to play some small ball and manufacture runs," said Navin, the Loons catcher. "We just want to move runners up and put ourselves in a position to score some runs.
"And at the end of the day it's nice to look up and see that zero on the board. Our guys have been pitching great."
Johnson (1.85 ERA) pitched one scoreless inning, Hershiser (1.67 ERA) pitched two, while Campbell (0.00 ERA) earned his second save by working through a ninth inning in which he allowed two baserunners.
Enloe (0-3) took the loss for the TinCaps, who fell to 5-14 in the second half.
The Loons and TinCaps will conclude their three-game series tomorrow (7:05 p.m.). Right-hander Victor Arano (3-3, 4.05 ERA) will start for Great Lakes while righty Yimmi Brasoban (0-3, 11.57) is Fort Wayne's scheduled starter.
The ever-popular Raining Money Night - sponsored by Chemical Bank - returns to Dow Diamond tomorrow night. A total of 2,000 one-dollar bills will be dropped from a helicopter on the field to waiting contestants. It will also be Family Feast Night, in which fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs, 16 oz. Pepsi products, ice cream sandwiches and Better Made chips all night long.
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.