MIDLAND, Mich. - The Great Lakes Loons went quietly into the good night Wednesday, and it did nothing to cure their recent malaise.
The Loons were held to four hits and were shutout for the first time since June 14 as they lost 5-0 to Clinton at Dow Diamond. It was the fifth consecutive loss for Great Lakes, which fell to 11-14 in the Midwest League's second half.
The visiting LumberKings scored four runs in the first two innings off of Loons starter Zachary Bird, who suffered his 11th loss of the season, and were never threatened. The Loons primary positive note was crafted by their relievers, who gave up just one run over the next seven innings while striking out nine batters.
"It's going to turnaround (for the team)," said reliever Ralston Cash, who pitched three scoreless innings. "It's just a roller-coaster ride for us right now. You can't just get off when you hit the lows."
Bird (4-11), who just came off the 7-day disabled list, was making his first start since July 1 and he struggled from the start as he walked two batters in the first inning. The LumberKings took advantage, scoring one run on a ground out by Marcus Littlewood, and another when Bird mishandled a bouncer back to the mound.
Clinton added two more runs in the second. Back to back doubles by Jeff Zimmerman produced one run, while a wild pitch later in the inning scored Luis Caballero to make it 4-0.
While Bird struggled, Clinton starter Blake Holavach breezed through six innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out six Loons. Joey Curletta doubled with one out in the fourth inning, but it was the only time all evening the Loons got a runner to second base.
"I didn't think we had that bad of at-bats," said Loons manager Bill Haselman. "I mean, guys were up there battling. But give (Holavech) credit. He was better than us tonight."
Clinton added an unearned run in the ninth off of Loons reliever Mark Pope. Barbosa doubled with one out and took third on an error, then scored on a single by Lonnie Kauppila.
Clinton reliever Aaron Brooks and Emilio Pagan combined to pitch three shutout innings to close out the win for the LumberKings, who are 9-16 in the second half. Holovach improved his record to 5-3 with the win.
The teams continue their three-game series tomorrow night when the Loons' Victor Arano (4-3, 3.88 ERA) faces fellow right-hander Edwin Diaz (2-5, 3.58 ERA). Diaz is rated by Baseball America as the No. 5 best prospect in the Seattle Mariners' organization.
Tomorrow is Family Feast Night at Dow Diamond. Fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs, 16 oz. Pepsi drinks, chips and ice cream sandwiches 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.