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Rusty TinCaps ready to hit road

Playoff hopefuls drop 3rd straight at Parkview Field

– Most of Fort Wayne’s remaining games are on the road. The way the recent homestand went, that might be a good thing.

The TinCaps dropped their third straight at Parkview Field, falling to Dayton 6-3 on Tuesday in front of 4,674 fans.

“It was a bad homestand for us,” Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said.

Fort Wayne (32-25, 63-64 overall) committed four errors as the race for the Eastern Division playoff spots tightened.

“We’ve struggled a little bit, but we showed a little bit of fight in that game. We stayed at it. We just had a couple of tough innings. Our offense hasn’t been hitting like we have most in the second half,” said second baseman Travis Whitmore, who 2 for 4 with one run scored.

“… We’re not panicking. We know we need to play better baseball, but we’re not going to hit the panic button.”

With 13 games left, Fort Wayne is the top qualifying team for one of the two Eastern Division playoff spots in the second half. The TinCaps hold a half-game lead over Lake County, which defeated Lansing 6-0. South Bend remains 2 1/2 games behind Fort Wayne after losing to Bowling Green 3-1. Lansing and Bowling Green qualified in the first half.

Ten of Fort Wayne’s final 13 games are on the road. The TinCaps begin a three-game series at West Michigan today.

“Hopefully our hopes are still high enough to go out there and get it done tomorrow because it’s a must-win,” Valentin said.

“From now on, every game counts. We can’t afford to lose any more series otherwise we’re not going to get what we want and go to the postseason. If we want to play in the postseason, we better start playing better.”

Fort Wayne committed two errors during Dayton’s two-run second inning. The TinCaps made two more errors in the third inning. Dayton (25-30, 55-70) scored twice in that inning as well to take a 4-0 lead.

The TinCaps scored twice in the sixth to cut the deficit in half. Whitmore scored the second run on a wild pitch. Lee Orr also attempted to score on the same play, but was called out on a close play at the plate.

“I’m pretty biased, but I thought he was safe,” said Whitmore. “But that wasn’t the game-changer. We had more opportunities.”

Fort Wayne brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning, but the late rally fizzled.

“We’ve been playing better on the road lately than at home,” Valentin said. “We put ourselves in that situation and we’ve got to get out of it.”

Notes: Tickets for Fort Wayne’s s potential first home playoff game go on sale today, starting at 9 a.m. The contest would take place at 7:05 p.m. on Sept. 5. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 260-482-6400, at the Parkview Field Ticket Office, or by logging on to … The TinCaps wore jerseys with blue ribbons. The jerseys were auctioned off and $3,115 was raised for prostate cancer research.