The Quad Cities River Bandits got seven solid innings from Chris Lee but left 13 men on base in a 6-3 defeat Saturday to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Modern Woodmen Park.
Lee became the first River Bandit to pitch into the eighth inning since Sam Gaviglio went 7.2 frames on June 12, 2012. However, he was hurt by poor defense. Lee (2-5) gave up five runs, three earned, on nine hits with a walk and three strikeouts in his seven-plus innings.
The southpaw departed from a 4-2 game in favor of Wisconsin with a runner on second in the eighth inning. Quad Cities reliever Patrick Christensen walked the first man he faced, Taylor Brennan, before getting Jose Pena to pop out to short and Garrett Cooper to fly out to left. However, Paul Eshleman drove a single to left-center to score pinch-runner Francisco Castillo and make the score 5-2. Eshleman, who hit his first home run of the season in the third, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
The River Bandits were able to respond with a two-out Brett Phillips home run, his fourth of the year, to right field in the bottom half of the eighth to get back within two.
However, throughout the rest of the night, the Bandits offense struggled to come up with run-scoring hits. Quad Cities left two runners on base in six of its nine at-bats. The River Bandits offense went just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Wisconsin was able to get on the scoreboard in the second inning. Pena singled sharply to right with one out. Phillips was able to cut the ball off in the alleyway, but threw back to first in an attempt to nab Pena only to see the ball sail wide of first baseman Jon Kemmer. The errant throw allowed Pena to get to second. Two batters later, Cooper singled home Pena to give the Timber Rattlers a 1-0 lead.
Poor defense haunted the Bandits again in the third. Michael Ratterree, who went 3-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored, knocked a one-out double to right field. Clint Coulter then singled to left. As he was charging in, Ronnie Mitchell bobbled the ball, allowing Ratterree to come home to make it 2-0.
Quad Cities was able to respond in the home half of third when Chan-Jong Moon, who had two hits and two walks in five plate appearances, doubled with one out. Wisconsin starter Tyler Alexander got Tyler White to fly out to right field, but then walked both Mitchell and Brett Booth to load the bases. Jon Kemmer then came through with a two-run single up the middle to tie the game at two. Kemmer would set a career-high with three hits in the effort.
Trevor Seidenberger (6-1) earned the win for Wisconsin by working 3.2 innings of relief. He allowed one run on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Taylor Williams worked a scoreless ninth for his second save.
The loss dropped Quad Cities back to .500 at 34-34. Wisconsin won for the 11th time in 12 games and will send Clint Terry (0-0, 1.15 ERA) to the mound in the final game of the first half of the season Sunday as they look for a sweep of the River Bandits, who counter with Michael Feliz (2-1, 3.03).
UP NEXT: The River Bandits close out the first half of the season with a Mega Mini-Fridge Giveaway and their annual Bandits Scholarship Presentation. Gates open at noon for the 1:15 p.m. game and fans will have the opportunity to win one of nine mini-fridges the River Bandits will give away - one during every inning. To order any of the River Bandits 2014 ticket plans - with new lower prices - call the River Bandits box office at 563-324-3000. Season ticket and mini-plan packages start at just seven games and begin at less than $40. Call a River Bandits account representative today to choose your seats and get the details of our various mini-plan packages.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: Having just been named Ballpark Digest's winner of Best Ballpark Improvement in America under $1 million, the River Bandits ownership is making one of the biggest improvements to Modern Woodmen Park since the ballpark was first built back in 1931! A new Ferris wheel, standing 105 feet over the playing field, opened May 24, to be followed by a new ride called a "Drop and Twist," an expanded 300-foot long zip line, and many other new games and attractions. In 2013, the team unveiled a new 220-foot long dual zip line, a rock climbing wall, and a number of new bounce houses. Last season, the team's major league affiliate, the Houston Astros, saw all six of its affiliates reach the playoffs - the first time in a decade any MLB team can claim such success. The River Bandits were one of three affiliates to reach the championship round and one of two to win their league championship.