FORT WAYNE – Fernando Perez and his teammates wanted a fresh start. They had been in disbelief over three straight walk-off losses and the inconsistencies that led to a seven-game losing streak.
For a change, the TinCaps came out on the right side of a close contest and rode stingy pitching past Lansing 3-1 Thursday in front of 6,387 at Parkview Field.
The win snapped Fort Wayne's longest skid since April 2011.
“It was really tough for us,” Perez said. “It was three walk-offs. One walk-off, it happens. But three of them – it was like we didn't believe it at first. Then we kind of laughed about it and said it's baseball.”
The TinCaps (18-28) entered with a 6-15 record in games decided by two runs or less. Manager Michael Collins spoke briefly to his team after Wednesday's 10-3 loss to Lake County about putting the struggles behind them.
“You lose seven straight, three in a row on walk-offs, that's pretty tough to take sometimes as individuals and as a team,” Collins said. “We came out and played a great game. A learning experience is the best way to describe that.”
Wearing pink uniforms to benefit the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, the TinCaps played as differently as they dressed, time and again snuffing out Lansing rallies.
“We executed when we needed to late in the game,” said designated hitter Dane Phillips, whose RBI double made it 3-0 in the third.
Nick Mutz got Mitch Nay to ground out to second with runners on first and third to end it.
The Lugnuts (23-23) stranded 11 runners, scoring their only run off an error by TinCaps right fielder Franmil Reyes in the fourth.
Justin Livengood (3-1) got four outs, including a bases-loaded strikeout of Jorge Saez to end the fifth.
“That was huge,” Phillips said.
Livengood was returned to the roster before the game as the TinCaps sent reliever Tony Wieber to short-season Eugene.
“He's always had that changeup,” Collins said of Livengood. “Seeing him show that curveball as another weapon was great. I was impressed.”
Setup man Tayron Guerrero, who was clocked as high as 98 mph, picked up the baton from there, retiring all six batters he faced and lowering his ERA to 1.46.
“He's unhittable right now,” Perez said.
Luis Tejada went 3 for 4 with a two-run single in the second, and Adrian De Horta worked around three hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings.
By getting the ball to Guerrero and Mutz, the TinCaps may have finally chased away some of their close-game demons.
“You probably create your own luck,” Collins said. “Being ready for the opportunity when you get it. Things go your way if you put yourself in a situation to have success or luck, if you will.”