Duo leads Kernels to verge of playoffs

Conger, Johnson each plate pair of runs in 6-4 victory over Chiefs

(Phil Richmond/MLB.com)

September 2, 2007 3:07 PM ET

Hank Conger and Tyler Johnson plated two runs apiece to lead Cedar Rapids to a 6-4 win at Peoria, virtually clinching a postseason berth Sunday.

Conger launched a solo shot, his 11th, in the second inning, and then hit a run-scoring double and scored on Johnson's two-RBI triple as part of a four-run seventh for the Kernels (40-29), who are a half-game behind Midwest League Western Division leader Quad Cities.

The Kernels are guaranteed a playoff spot, as long as they do not lose by 19 or more runs to Peoria in their season finale on Monday. If the Chiefs were to win, the teams would finish with identical 40-30 records and have an even 6-6 head-to-head mark on the season. The second tie-breaker is run differential.

Cedar Rapids reliever Barret Browning (9-4) yielded two hits and a walk, fanning one over two shutout innings. Warner Madrigal pitched around a hit and a walk over the final two frames for his 20th save.

Kernels' starter Thomas Mendoza allowed four runs on five hits with two strikeouts and a walk over five innings.

If Cedar Rapids reaches the Midwest League postseason, it will be the first time since 2004. The Kernels sport a one-game lead over the third-place Chiefs (39-30) with one game remaining between the two Monday. A victory would lock up the second-half division title.

Ryne Malone hit a two-run double in the second, and Russell Canzler went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Blake Lalli hit two singles and scored once for Peoria.

Chiefs reliever Jayson Ruhlman (5-3) gave up three runs on two hits and a walk with three strikeouts over three frames. Starter Michael Bartek allowed two runs on five hits and four walks, striking out five over 3 2/3 innings.

Michael Blinn is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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