SIOUX CITY, Iowa — All-Star RHP Patrick Johnson stymied the Saltdogs to save a series split as the Sioux City Explorers (41-47) topped Lincoln (46-39) 7-1 in front of 1,474 fans at Lewis and Clark Park Sunday night.
Johnson (8-5) pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits with seven strikeouts and three walks to earn the win.
Sioux City plated four runs in the bottom of the first, three of them coming on an Amos Ramon two-out double, and never looked back in the series finale between the longtime rivals.
Luis Nunez drove in the Dogs’ lone run with a single down the third base line in the third inning.
Zachary Varce (5-8) surrendered five runs on eight hits in five innings, striking out a season-high eight but walking five to suffer the loss.
Trey Barham pitched the final 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief for Lincoln. Barham has allowed just one earned run in his last 13 appearances.
The loss, coupled with Gary’s 12-inning win at Kansas City, shrinks Lincoln’s Central division lead back to 1 1/2 games. The ‘Dogs have 15 games remaining in the regular season; Gary has 14.
The Saltdogs begin a three-game series at Wichita Monday night at 7:05 p.m. LHP Kevin McGovern (3-1, 3.09) will take the hill against RHP Jason Van Skike (9-4, 3.34). Radio coverage begins at 6:35 p.m. on KFOR 1240 with “At the Ballpark” and “The Obie Show.”