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Gulbransen, Offense Extend Win Streak to Six
LINCOLN, Neb. - RailCats starter Jon Gulbransen threw a quality outing and the 'Cats held off a late rally by the Saltdogs in a 7-5 victory on Saturday night. The RailCats (39-41) have won a season-high six straight games and are 9-2 in the month of August. They are seven games behind first place Wichita in the American Association Central Division with 20 games left in the regular season.
The RailCats scored in the first inning for the third straight game. Adam Klein led off with a double and Chris Carrara reached on an infield single with one out. Craig Maddox hit an RBI single to right and Kenny Bryant brought home Carrara with a groundout to put the 'Cats on top 2-0. The RailCats have scored nine runs in the first inning over the last three games, and are outscoring their opponents 74-37 in the first inning this season.
Lincoln answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the first against Gulbransen. David Espinosa drove in Sean Smith with a grounder to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The 'Cats came back for more in the second inning against Saltdogs starter Ryan Sheldon. Mike Massaro and Carrara hit back-to-back RBI singles with two out to make it 4-1. The RailCats pounded four doubles on their way to three runs in the fourth inning. David Cooper, Klein, Massaro and Maddox each doubled as the 'Cats took a 7-1 lead. Gary hit a season-high six doubles in the game.
Gulbransen (4-1) held the Saltdogs to an unearned run on five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out five. In his last two starts, he has given up two runs, one earned in 13 innings of work and has lowered his ERA to 2.46.
Sheldon (5-4) was rocked for seven runs, six earned on a season-high 12 hits.
The Saltdogs slowly chipped away at the six-run deficit, scoring single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. In the ninth, they scored on a bases-loaded walk and sac fly against RailCats reliever Marco Gonzales to trim the 'Cats lead to 7-5. Lincoln twice brought the winning run to the plate in the inning, but Gonzalez got Mike Provencher to pop out to end the game.
The RailCats have won three straight series for the first time all season and will look for their second consecutive sweep on Sunday at 5:05. Morgan Coombs (4-7, 4.72) will be on the bump for Gary.