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Another walk-off winner by Downs leads Dragons to doubleheader split

Jeter Downs is the walk-off king. And he’s pretty good at leading off, too.

Downs singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday to lift the Dayton Dragons to a 5-4 victory over Lake County in the completion of a game suspended in the fifth inning Monday night because of rain.

It was Downs’ third walk-off winner this season.

“He proved it again in those situations,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said.

Then Downs homered to lead off the bottom of the first for the Dragons in Tuesday’s regularly scheduled game, which the Dragons lost 2-1 in seven innings.

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Downs homered to start the game for the Dragons for the fourth time and the second time at home. He has six homers on the season, tying the number he hit last year for the Reds’ rookie league team in Billings, Mont.

“He had just batted and was ready to go with confidence there and put that one out,” Bolivar said.

The oddity is that Downs did what he did on consecutive at-bats for the same team on the same day.

Monday’s game was stopped because of rain in the middle of the fifth inning tied 2-2. Hendrik Clementina hit a two-run homer — his team-high ninth — in the seventh for a 4-2 lead. The Captains came back with two solo homers in the eighth to tie the score 4-4. Ryan Nutof (3-1), who blew the save opportunity in the eighth, pitched out of trouble in the ninth to set the stage for Downs.

“They concentrated and focused the whole game and it was good to see that,” Bolivar said.

The Dragons (22-21) wasted a good start by Wendolyn Bautista (2-3) in the second game. He pitched 6 2/3 in one of his best starts, using his changeup and slider to keep the Captains off balance and get seven strikeouts. The solo homers he allowed in the first and seventh cost him.

Bautista is 25 and pitching in Dayton for the second time. After a seven-game stay in 2016, he spent last season in advanced Class A Daytona and AAA Louisville and did not pitch well. In nine starts for Dayton, he has a 5.52 ERA.

“Bautista did an outstanding job making nice pitches,” Bolivar said. “I give him a lot of credit. He battled and went deep in the game and gave us a chance. His last two outings he’s been more aggressive and mixing his pitches well.

“He’s one of the older guys on the team and they still believe in him that he can do some good stuff. It’s up to him to prove that.”

Bolivar said the starting rotation is beginning to settle down. The streaky Dragons will need that to prevent another losing streak. They’ve had losing streaks of three, eight and eight to go with winning streaks of nine, nine of 10 and four.

Dragons tales: Hunter Greene, the Reds’ No. 2 overall draft choice in 2017, will start Thursday’s series finale. Greene is 0-3 with a 10.06 ERA. After struggling through his first five starts, Greene threw four scoreless innings and struck out five on May 12. In his last start, he allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Dragons starter Tyler Mondile was named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for May 14-20. Mondile pitched seven innings for a complete game in the second game of a doubleheader Friday against Great Lakes. He retired 21 of 22 batters and allowed only a hit and a walk in a 3-0 victory.

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