The Idaho Falls Chukars were a win away from tying a franchise record.
If the Chukars beat the Helena Brewers on Sunday afternoon, their winning streak would reach nine games. Not since June 2007, when the Chukars started the season 9-0, has Idaho Falls won that many consecutive games in their 11-year history as a Kansas City Royals affiliate.
But Helena ended the streak and avoided a four-game sweep with a 10-8 win Sunday at Kindrick Legion Field.
The Chukars started out slow, falling behind 3-0 after three innings and 5-2 after four. But they broke out in the fifth, scoring four runs for their first, and only, lead of the game.
The highlight of the fifth inning was a two-run home run by left fielder Roman Collins (1 for 4).
The Brewers returned the favor, and then some, in the sixth inning. Helena scored five runs in the frame off starting pitcher Derek Gordon and reliever Ian Thompkins to take a 10-6 lead.
Gordon went into Sunday with five straight starts of two earned runs or fewer. He hadn’t given up more than four earned runs in a start all season.
On Sunday in five innings pitched, Gordon allowed seven earned runs on eight hits, two walks, three strikeouts and two home runs to Helena second baseman Jose Cuas. Gordon’s ERA rose from 3.38 to 4.34 by the time he departed in the sixth.
The Chukars scored twice in the top of the ninth and had the tying runs second and third with two outs, but third baseman Ryan Dale (1 for 4) struck out to end the game.
Regular starters Amalani Fukofuka (outfield) and Marten Gasparini (shortstop) rode the bench on Sunday (Gasparini pinch-ran in the ninth). Catcher Nick Dini, who has hit .405 in his last 10 games, also didn’t play.
Second baseman DJ Burt went 2 for 3 with a walk. First baseman Josh Banuelos and catcher Kyle Pollock each went 2 for 5 with a double.
Idaho Falls (21-27, 8-2 second half) travels to Billings (22-25, 5-5) for a three-game series starting Monday night at 7:05.