Zion, IL. 8-5-2010 – Cristian Guerrero cleared the scoreboard with a long two-run home run in the first inning but the Gary SouthShore RailCats would not score again Thursday night, falling 6-2 to the Lake County Fielders in the opener of a four-game series.
Lake County starter Zach Ward (6-5) settled down to retire 10 of the next 11 hitters after Guerrero’s home run, and the right-hander would go the distance, allowing just seven hits and the two earned runs. Ward, who also tossed a complete game his last time out against Winnipeg, struck out seven and walked just two in the victory.
The RailCats had their best scoring chance outside of the first against Ward in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs on a Tanner Townsend single and Louis Ott walk. Ward, however, would come back to strikeout Mike Rohde to end the game and push the RailCats back to two games under the .500 mark.
In the first, Mike Massaro reached on a one-out infield single before ward struck out Jay Pecci. That brought Guerrero to the plate, and after fouling off three straight two-strike pitches Guerrero blasted off to the gap in left-center. The home run was Guerrero’s team-leading 12th of the year and staked the RailCats to an early 2-0 lead.
Left-hander Tom Thornton (1-9) was activated off the disabled list and made the start, but lost for the ninth time in as many outings. Thornton allowed a Brian McFall RBI double in the first, an Anthony Esquer run-scoring hit in the second and two runs in the fifth, the first when Esquer singled and scored on a Juan Valdes triple. Valdes would come in to score moments later on an Amos Ramon single to make the score 4-2 and chase Thornton from the game.
Thornton went 4.1 innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits. The tall left-hander walked one and struck out four. James Baker came on in relief of Thornton and gave up just one hit in 2.2 scoreless innings, fanning four Fielders of his own. Lake County got a pair of insurance runs, however, off Zeb Engle in the ninth with RBI hits for Cody Strait and Esquer.
Adam Klein and Townsend each had two hits for the RailCats, who put the leadoff man on in four of the last five innings but never did score. The ‘Cats hit into double plays in four straight innings from the fifth through eighth to help Ward get around some rare mistakes.
Esquer went 4-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored against his former team, as the Fielders out-hit the RailCats 10-7. Strait had a pair of doubles in the win.
The RailCats (34-36) and Fielders (30-39) continue their four-game series Friday night at 7 p.m. with right-hander Brandon Magee (3-2, 3.25 ERA) expected to be activated and start for the first time since June, and John Brownell (2-6, 6.42 ERA) slated to go for Lake County. The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: Ward improved to 5-0 in his last eight starts. The Fielders as a team are 8-0 in those starts … the RailCats activated Thornton before the game and placed outfielder Zach Rodeghero on the disabled list.