Dragons top Loons, move back into first place

Dragons catcher Eric Yang catches a foul popup in the third inning Sunday off the bat of Great Lakes batter Andy Pages. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Dragons catcher Eric Yang catches a foul popup in the third inning Sunday off the bat of Great Lakes batter Andy Pages. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

A frustrating six-game losing streak behind them, the Dayton Dragons head to Fort Wayne this week back in first place and feeling like the team they’ve been most of the season.

Miguel Hernandez led an up-down-the-order offensive attack with three RBIs Sunday to lead the Dragons to their second straight win over Great Lakes, 8-4, at Day Air Ballpark.

The last four games of the losing streak that ended Saturday night saw Great Lakes average nine runs. But good pitching in Saturday’s second game and again on Sunday grounded the Loons’ offense and put the Dragons back in first place in the High A Central League East.

“It was a week to forget up until yesterday, especially with the doubleheader yesterday when we lost Game 1,” said Alex McGarry, who had two hits and two RBIs as the DH Sunday. “Then we came back to get Game 2. Props to this group for flushing that game and getting the win.”

The Dragons (36-29) finished the homestand 6-6 and lead Great Lakes (36-30) and Lake County (36-30) by half a game. The Dragons are also second overall in the league and a half-game ahead of Cedar Rapids (36-30) of the West in the race for the second and final playoff spot. Quad Cities (43-20) is threatening to run away with the top seed.

“We know that our goal is just to try to win series and build momentum,” said McGarry, who said the team is paying attention to the standings. “We definitely have momentum going into next week.”

The Dragons grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by James Free and an RBI single by McGarry. After the Loons’ Brandon Lewis hit his third homer of the series in the third, Free singled in another run in the third for a 3-1 Dragons lead.

The Dragons’ lead grew to 4-1 when Hernandez led off the fifth with his second home run. The Loons got that run back in the sixth.

Hernandez answered with a two-run single in the sixth for a 6-2 lead. The Loons answered with two runs in the seventh, but the Dragons had another answer in bottom of the inning to lead 8-4 on RBI singles by McGarry and Michael Siani.

“It’s an interesting dichotomy to see the way they score their runs,” McGarry said. “They hit a lot of home runs this week. That’s not necessarily our MO. The last two games it’s been a lot better with situational hitting, moving runners, sac flies, that kind of thing. Those mature, professional at-bats are what’s going to get us wins.”

Dragons starter Jacques Pucheu had his ups and downs through four innings and 78 pitches. The only hit and run he allowed was the Lewis homer. But he walked five, including two in second with two outs to help load the bases. But he struck out James Outman looking to escape the inning.

Saturday split: The Dragons lost the completion of Friday’s suspended game, 13-3, and won a seven-inning game 4-1 to break a six-game losing streak.

Noah Davis (3-5) pitched six strong innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks in the win. He struck out seven. McGarry had three hits and Victor Ruiz had two hits and two RBIs.

Hitting streak: Francisco Urbaez bounced a single between the third baseman and shortstop in the seventh inning to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Urbaez, who is batting .335, equaled Brian Rey’s hitting streak in May.

Olympics bound: Right-handed reliever Daniel Duarte is leaving the Dragons temporarily to play for Mexico in the Olympics. Duarte, 24, joined the Dragons from their rookie team in the Arizona Complex League on July 1 soon after being signed as a free agent. He has a 3.38 ERA in four appearances.

Francis Peguero, 23, was activated from the injured list Saturday. Before going on the list on July 7, Peguero had a 6.32 ERA and four saves in 14 appearances. He pitched a perfect ninth Sunday.

TUESDAY’S GAME

Dayton at Fort Wayne, 7:05 p.m., 980