LANSING, Mich. - The Lansing Lugnuts (22-23, 54-60) took advantage of four South Bend Cubs (24-21, 61-52) and scored six unearned runs for a 9-5 victory, opening a three-game series on Wednesday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.The Lugnuts shaved the Cubs' lead for the Eastern Division wild card down
LANSING, Mich. - The Lansing Lugnuts (22-23, 54-60) took advantage of four South Bend Cubs (24-21, 61-52) and scored six unearned runs for a 9-5 victory, opening a three-game series on Wednesday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The Lugnuts shaved the Cubs' lead for the Eastern Division wild card down to two games with 25 games remaining in the regular season.
The last time Lansing had played a home series, the Lugnuts had been overwhelmed by South Bend by a combined 36-12 margin in a three-game sweep. This night appeared to be heading the same direction, with a first-inning Nelson Maldonado two-run double and a third-inning Andy Weber RBI double giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead against 18-year-old Lugnuts phenom Eric Pardinho .
The Cubs only had themselves to blame for what happened next.
With two outs and Johnny Aiello at second base in the third inning, Gabriel Moreno 's pop fly off South Bend starter Faustino Carrera (Loss, 6-6) fell between second baseman Jake Slaughter and right fielder Nelson Velazquez for an RBI single, giving the Lugnuts their first run.
Aiello led off the fifth inning with his sixth home run of the season, drawing the Nuts within 3-2. Carrera plunked DJ Neal , gave up a single to Tanner Kirwer and walked pinch-hitter Hagen Danner to load the bases. Otto Lopez followed with a seemingly perfect double-play grounder for Slaughter, but the ball went right through the second baseman as two runs scored for a 4-3 Lugnuts lead. Three batters later, reliever Casey Ryan tossed a wild pitch over the head of batter Rafael Lantigua , bringing in Lopez to give the Lugnuts a 5-3 lead.
An inning later with Aiello aboard, South Bend center fielder Cole Roederer misplayed a Neal single into a three-base error, scoring both Lugnuts runners for a 7-3 lead.
And in the seventh inning, after the Cubs tallied a run against Lugs reliever Sean Wymer in the top half of the inning to creep within three runs, a two-out missed-catch error by first baseman Maldonado opened the door for a Lantigua RBI double and Ryan Gold RBI single, capping the Lugnuts' scoring.
After Pardinho gave up seven hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings, with two walks and three strikeouts, Wymer (Win, 6-11) struck out four batters in 3 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk.
Justin Watts delivered a perfect ninth inning, striking out one.
The second game of the three-game series will take place on a Labatt Blue Thirsty Thursday with $1, $2 and $3 draft beer specials and $3 wine. Right-hander Juan De Paula (8.69 ERA) takes on South Bend right-hander Zach Mort (3.86). To live the Lug Life and purchase tickets, visit lansinglugnuts.com, call (517) 485-4500 or come to the Cooley Law School Stadium box office at 505 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Lansing.
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