After six runs in the first three innings and a six-inning shutout by starter Justin Hancock, the TinCaps looked to be cruising to a win against Bowling Green on Thursday.
But the relievers crumbled, and so did Fort Wayne in a 7-6 loss to the Hot Rods.
A win Thursday would have tied the TinCaps (23-15) with the Hot Rods (25-13) for second in the Midwest League Eastern Division standings. Instead, Fort Wayne finds itself two games back of the league leaders. The defeat also gave the TinCaps their first home series loss of the season and put them at 2-4 against Bowling Green this season.
Fort Wayne faced the pitcher with the best ERA in the Midwest League, but his performance wasn't the problem.
The TinCaps jumped on Hot Rods starter Dylan Floro and chased him after four innings. He had won three of his last four outings and gone at least five innings in his last six starts, with a 1.16 ERA on the year.
Starter Justin Hancock did his part, as well.
The right-hander went six innings and gave up three hits with three strikeouts. Only one of those hits went for extra bases.
Then, reliever Matthew Chabot took the mound for the TinCaps, and four runs crossed the plate.
It was Chabot's first appearance for the TinCaps. He gave up three hits, three runs and a walk in only 2/3 innings before Leonel Campos replaced him.
That didn't work out well, either.
Campos got the final out of the seventh, but gave up two more runs and two walks in the eighth, forcing closer Roman Madrid to the mound early. He went one inning and gave up his first earned run of the season.
The run scored on Madrid completed a seven-run swing that turned a sure-fire win into a momentum-sapping loss for Fort Wayne.