LANSING, Mich. - Rehabbing Toronto Blue Jays star Marcus Stroman was brilliant in his return to the mound, but the Great Lakes Loons (28-36, 66-66) rallied for seven two-out runs in the ninth for a 7-4 victory over the Lansing Lugnuts (29-35, 71-63) on Wednesday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Pitching for the first time since tearing his left ACL on March 10, Stroman used 69 pitches in a sparkling 4 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings. He touched 93-94 mph, struck out seven Loons and walked just one.
The Lugs' offense built a lead to his back, scoring three runs off Dodgers 2014 first-rounder Grant Holmes in the fourth inning on a Richard Urena two-run homer and a Ryan McBroom booming RBI double.
In the seventh, a Chris Carlson RBI single brought Lansing's lead to 4-0.
Reliever Conor Fisk had come in for Stroman with two outs in the fifth, dealing 3 1/3 scoreless innings to bridge to the ninth.
But Great Lakes had a surprise in store for closer Carlos Ramirez (Loss, 2-1). Down to its final out - and down to its final strike during two separate at-bats - the Loons strung together three consecutive RBI singles to close to within a run. That brought up slugger Justin Chigbogu, who blasted an opposite-field three-run homer to seize the lead. Two batters later, Matt Beaty closed the damage with an RBI triple against Dusty Isaacs.
Loons right-hander Bernardo Reyes (Win, 1-0) pitched the final two innings scorelessly to earn the victory in his Midwest League debut.
Thursday is the middle game in the three-game series as well as a Labatt Thirsty Thursday, featuring $2 beers and sodas. The Lugnuts send right-hander Starlyn Suriel (8-7, 3.89) to the hill at 7:05 p.m., opposing Loons lefty Michael Boyle (1-1, 2.70). To purchase tickets, call (517) 485-4500 or visit lansinglugnuts.com.
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