By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on August 29, 2006 2:34 PM
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- The Carolina Mudcats nearly overcame one of the largest deficits in the history of the franchise, but fell 8-7 at Bell South Park against the Chattanooga Lookouts on Monday night.
The Mudcats (58-76) trailed the Lookouts (79-55) 8-0 entering the top of the eighth, then built a seven-run, two-out rally, and came within inches of tying the game.
Homer Bailey (7-0) worked six innings to cement his position as arguably the minor league's best starting pitcher, but witnessed a near meltdown from the Chattanooga bullpen in the eighth.
With two outs and none on in the eighth, Jose Campusano began the uproar with a seemingly innocent single to left, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Rex Rundgren walked against reliever Jon Coutlangus before a single by Lee Mitchell to fill the bases. Coutlangus walked Ryan Bear to force in the first run. Kevin Randel followed with a three-run double over centerfielder Chris Dickerson's head, cutting the deficit to 8-4.
Brett Carroll was hit on the ensuing pitch as the Lookouts' bullpen started working again. Pinch-hitter Brian Cleveland struck out, but reached on a wild pitch to continue the inning for Jonathan Aceves. Brock Till (S, 5) entered the game, working a 3-2 count and representing the tying run against who lined a double up the right field line to score three runs, making it an 8-7 game.
J.C. Muniz as the leading run, ripped a low liner toward the hole at shortstop only to see Anderson Machado make a diving catch to prevent Carolina from tying the game.
In the ninth, Campusano bunted to begin the frame, but was doubled off of first base when Joey Votto bellyflopped onto the first base line to catch Rundgren's sacrifice attempt. Mitchell fanned against Till to end the game.
Bailey won his seventh start of 12 at Double-A, and has now thrown 25 scoreless innings covering four starts against Florida Marlins' affiliates (Jupiter/Carolina) in 2006, fanning 33.
Paul Mildren (10-9) made his shortest start since Aug. 8, 2005, lasting just 32/3 innings, allowing all five runs in the fourth inning. The Lookouts posted three more runs against relievers Adam Brandenburg and Kevin Cave in the seventh.
Carolina trails the series 3-1, and closes the road portion of the 2006 regular season tonight with Jose Garcia (5-7, 3.28) opposing Camilo Vasquez (3-3, 3.71) at 7:15. The Mudcats return home to conclude the regular season on Thursday with the first of five games against the Jacksonville Suns.
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