DAYTON, Ohio - Despite holding a three-run advantage halfway through Sunday's game, the Fort Wayne TinCaps could not hang on, and lost, 5-4, to the Dayton Dragons.
TinCaps starter Erik Cabrera allowed only three hits, but two were home runs hit by Juan Perez, the second of which tied the game at four.
Fort Wayne (28-21, 59-60) fell behind, 1-0, just one batter into the bottom of the first inning. Cabrera, who gave up a first-inning home run in his Midwest League debut Monday, allowed a leadoff home run to Perez.
The TinCaps answered back in the top of the third, chipping away at former first-round pick Robert Stephenson. Kyle Gaedele led off the inning with a walk, and moved to second on a bunt single from BJ Guinn. One out later, Jace Peterson used his eighth triple of the year to score both Gaedele and Travis Jankowski, giving the TinCaps a 2-1 lead. Mike Gallic followed with an RBI single, making the advantage 3-1.
Fort Wayne scored in the fourth, but not without the benefit of a base hit. Stephenson issued a one-out walk to Lee Orr, who promptly stole second. Orr then stole third, all while Austin Hedges was at the plate; Hedges eventually struck out. Kyle Gaedele then drew a walk, putting runners at the corners. BJ Guinn stood at the plate when Gaedele broke for third, drawing a throw from Dayton (21-26, 51-66) catcher Yovan Gonzalez. As the throw hurtled toward second, Orr broke for home and successfully stole, scoring a run.
Orr became the first TinCaps player to steal home plate this season.
At the conclusion of the fourth, Fort Wayne led, 4-1. Cabrera once again tangled with Perez in the fifth inning, this time with two runners on base. If Cabrera recorded one more out, he would have been eligible for a win. He instead surrendered a three-run home run to Perez, which tied the game at four.
Dennis O'Grady (4-1) allowed a run in the sixth inning, putting the Dragons in front, 5-4, for good. Wes Mugarian (1-3) earned the win in relief for Dayton, throwing two shutout innings.
Carlos Contreras pitched a perfect ninth for his second save in as many nights, and his 16th of the season.
The TinCaps were not without chances down the stretch, as they put runners on base in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Travis Whitmore was picked off third to end the sixth, Peterson was picked off of first base to end the seventh and Gallic was caught stealing to close the eighth. It was the first time in Gallic's 21 attempts that he was caught stealing this season.
The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for Monday at 7:00 PM. Frank Garces is the scheduled starter for the TinCaps, who look to avoid the series sweep. Stalin Gerson is set to start for Dayton.