One bad inning was all it took to derail the Dayton Dragons in a pitchers’ duel on Wednesday night.
The Lansing Lugnuts scored three runs in the sixth inning to beat the Dragons 3-1 in front of 7,448 fans at Fifth Third Field.
“It was a good game,” said Dragons manager Luis Bolivar. “The guys battled out there. They played well. They played hard. We just couldn’t get anything going and we were facing a good pitcher. It’s part of the game.”
Dayton, which snapped a six-game losing streak with an 8-1 win in the first game of the series on Tuesday, has lost 17 of its last 21 games.
Dragons starter Ricky Salinas (1-3) was flawless through five innings, allowing just one hit with five strikeouts and two walks.
“He did a great job,” Bolivar said. “It just took one inning. He got a couple pitches up in the zone and they took advantage of it.”
In the sixth inning, the Lugnuts broke through against Salinas. With one out, Lansing’s Reggie Pruitt doubled and scored on a single by Griffin Conine, the son of former Red Jeff Conine. Lugnuts first baseman Jake Brodt smashed a 404-foot two-run homer that landed on Monument Ave. to take a 3-0 lead.
Lugnuts starter Josh Winckowski (5-2) tossed seven shutout innings, allowing four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.
“He mixed up his pitches well,” Bolivar said. “He had command of his main pitch, his sinker. He attacked the hitters.”
Dragons second baseman Randy Ventura led off the game with single and advanced to second base on a misplayed ground ball by left fielder D.J. Neal, but was stranded to end the inning.
Dayton threatened again with two hits in the second inning, including a triple by catcher Morgan Lofstrom, but the Dragons couldn’t bring him home.
The Dragons got one back in the eighth inning. Carlos Rivero tripled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ventura.
Dayton had opportunities to put more runs on the board throughout the game, but went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving five on base.
Carlos Macharro pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless relief with two strikeouts, while Connor Bennett pitched a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts. In the series, the Dragons bullpen has been perfect, facing 22 hitters in 7.1 innings without allowing a baserunner.
“They kept us in the game,” Bolivar said, “we just couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
The Dragons begin the second three-game series of the homestand on Friday against the South Bend Cubs. Friday and Saturday’s games will both be 7 p.m. starts, while Sunday’s series finale will start at 2 p.m.