TinCaps left-hander Sam Williams surrendered a two-out, two-run homer to Jonny Deluca in the bottom of the eighth and that proved to be the difference in a 5-3 Fort Wayne loss to the first-place Great Lakes Loons on Tuesday at Dow Diamond.
The opener of the six-game series between the top and bottom teams in the High-A Central East Division was delayed for an hour and 18 minutes because of rain.
The TinCaps (36-43) stormed back from an early 3-0 deficit to tie the game in the top of the eighth when Tirso Ornelas hammered a solo homer to right, his third long ball of the season.
Williams got the first two outs in the bottom of the frame, but Carson Taylor reached on a Zack Mathis error at third and Deluca followed with his fourth homer of the year.
Fort Wayne went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth.
The TinCaps trailed by three runs after two innings as the Loons (44-35) jumped on Fort Wayne starter Moises Lugo in the early going. Lugo came into the game with a 3.49 ERA that would have ranked third in High-A Central had he had enough innings to qualify.
A two-run homer from 20-year-old Eddys Leonard, playing his first game in High-A after hitting 14 home runs and driving in 57 in 66 games at Low-A, was the big blow against Lugo. The 22-year-old right-hander settled in, eventually working five innings for the third straight start – he had done so only twice in 11 appearances previously – and gave up only those three runs while striking out seven against one walk.
Fort Wayne's comeback began in the top of the third, when Grant Little doubled and Agustin Ruiz drove him in with a single back through the middle. Ruiz has 53 RBI this season, good for sixth in the league. He went 2 for 4 and has 12 hits in the last five games.
The TinCaps got another run back in the seventh when Little drove a sacrifice fly to center that scored Chris Givin, who had led off the frame with a walk, Fort Wayne's only free pass of the night.
Prior to the game, the TinCaps announced the Padres had promoted 22-year-old left-hander Noel Vela from Low-A Lake Elsinore to Fort Wayne. Vela had a 3.98 ERA in 54 1/3 innings with the Storm and will take the place of right-hander Anderson Espinoza in the rotation after Espinoza was traded to the Cubs organization. The southpaw will make his Fort Wayne debut Thursday.
Vela had a 1-8 record at Lake Elsinore, but that was more the product of somewhat poor run support than anything else. His strikeout numbers were impressive (more than 10 per nine innings and 11 in one six-inning start in June), but he walked nearly five per nine frames, as well. He also held opponents to a .202 batting average, a figure that would be third-best in the league if he had the innings to qualify.
The southpaw filling Espinoza's place in the rotation means Gabe Mosser is still not ready to come off the 7-day IL and Erik Sabrowski is still sidelined for undisclosed reasons. The left-hander hasn't pitched since July 24 after posting a 1.86 ERA in his first 29 pro innings and isn't on the starting docket this week. Sabrowski is coming off Tommy John surgery. He has not been placed on the Injured List.