LANSING, Mich. - Spot-starter Yonardo Herdenez tossed five innings of two-hit, two-run baseball, but Michael Beltre's RBI single in the ninth lifted the Dayton Dragons (29-40, 70-69) over the Lansing Lugnuts (26-43, 63-72), 5-4, on Sunday afternoon at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Two games remain for the Lugnuts: Monday afternoon's regular-season finale, and Tuesday's Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owner's Insurance.
The 21-year-old Herdenez, who has pitched at four different levels along the Blue Jays system in 2017, made his first start since August 23, 2016, a dandy. He struck out five Dragons, including sluggers Jose Siri and Taylor Sparks twice, and limited Dayton to solely a two-run Siri homer in the third inning.
The Lugnuts went on top, 4-2, thanks two-run rallies in the fourth and fifth innings, but lost a late two-run lead for the second straight day.
A Bobby Eveld two-out wild pitch brought in the Dragons' third run in the sixth inning, and an Eveld two-base throwing error set up a Bruce Yari RBI groundout that tied the score in the eighth.
19-year-old Gaudy Ramirez (Loss, 0-1) made his Lugnuts debut in the ninth. Hector Vargas greeted him with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, to third on a wild pitch and scored the decisive run on Beltre's liner into left field.
Dayton received stellar relief from Joel Kuhnel (Win, 2-4), who relieved starter Wennnigton Romero in the fifth and faced the minimum for the final 4 1/3 innings, allowing only one base runner - a Joshua Palacios single in the seventh - while striking out two.
Rodrigo Orozco went 2-for-5 with two doubles in the loss, joining Palacios, David Jacob and Mitch Nay with a two-hit game.
Right-hander Mike Ellenbest (8-7, 6.29) starts the regular-season finale at 1:05 p.m. Monday, taking on Dragons right-hander Matt Blandino (4-4, 5.72). Bring your dog to the last Dog Days of Summer for the year, in addition to Fan Appreciation Day and a Labor Day BBQ Bonanza! Thank you for Going Nuts with us all year long! Tickets may be purchased at the Cooley Law School Stadium box office, by calling (517) 485-4500 or via lansinglugnuts.com.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.