INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Indians (13-12) received 6.1 solid innings from starting pitcher Alex McRae and a home run from Kevin Kramer, but ultimately fell short on Friday night.
The Gwinnett Stripers (10-16) scored two runs each in the seventh and eighth innings, erasing a three-run deficit to steal a 4-3 win over the Tribe.
Indy’s 3-0 edge was built with two runs in the second and another in the fifth.
In the bottom of the second, three straight two-out hits gave the Tribe a 2-0 lead. Erich Weiss singled, Pablo Reyes doubled and Chris Bostick singled to fuel the rally.
Then in the fifth, Kramer went yard for the third time this season. It was a solo shot to right and the Indians’ first homer at home this year.
Entering Friday’s contest, McRae’s best pitching had come at home. 15 of his 16 earned runs allowed came away from Victory Field. McRae was comfortable in the Circle City again on this night.
The right-hander cruised through his first six innings of work. McRae threw less than 70 pitches, blanking the Stripers on two hits.
Inning number seven is where McRae had some issues.
Gwinnett started the seventh by drawing a leadoff walk. That brought up Carlos Franco, who smashed a two-run homer to right center. McRae got a soft pop out next, but a single followed and thus ended his evening on the mound.
Dovydas Neverauskas took over for McRae and saw the tying run come 90 feet away from scoring, but was able to escape the jam.
McRae completed his work with a final line of two runs allowed on four hits and five strikeouts in 6.1 frames pitched.
Neverauskas returned to the bump for the eighth, where he was unable to help McRae get the win.
The Stripers struck quickly, as Peter Bourjos led off with a single. He scored a batter later, as Rio Ruiz ripped a game-tying double to center. Ruiz then touched home to give Gwinnett the 4-3 lead after Sean Kazmar Jr. scored him on a sacrifice fly.
Neverauskas was done after that, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk in one inning pitched. He took the loss.
The Indians went down in order in the eighth, but had a glimmer of hope in the ninth.
Jacob Stallings reached to begin Indy’s final at-bat, surprising Gwinnett with a bunt. Stripers reliever Josh Ravin bobbled the ball and then made a poor throw to first base, leaving him with an error. Ravin settled down, though. A bunt pop out and two strikeouts spelled the end for Indianapolis.
With each team scoring a victory in the first two games of the series, the Tribe and Stripers will go at it again on Saturday. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. with Tyler Eppler (3-1, 2.92 ERA) scheduled to start for the home team.