Forced to play on the road for the 11th straight game, the Missoula Osprey ran out of steam Tuesday.

One night after sweeping at Great Falls, the O's failed to maintain their momentum in dropping a 6-3 decision to the Idaho Falls Chukars at Melaleuca Field. The game marked the third in a row that was scheduled to be played in Missoula but had to be moved because of soggy outfield conditions at Ogren-Allegiance Park.

With the loss, the second-place Osprey (11-9) fell four games behind first-place Billings (16-6) in the Pioneer League North second-half standings. Idaho Falls has already punched its ticket into the Pioneer League playoffs by winning the first-half race in the North Division.

Missoula jumped in front in the second inning on a Luvin Valbuena RBI single. Idaho Falls answered with two runs off O's starter Alex Valdez in the third before the Osprey tied it up in the bottom half on a Tristen Carranza RBI double.

Valdez ran into big trouble in the fifth, surrendering three runs before he was lifted in favor of Ezequiel De La Cruz. He turned in a solid performance in three innings of relief work, allowing just one run on four hits with three strikeouts.

The Chukars (7-15 second half) and Osprey traded runs in the sixth and it proved to be the final scoring in the game. Missoula's run came as a result of a two-out RBI single by Jose Reyes.

The Osprey put runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. However, Idaho Falls reliever Brady Cox struck out Missoula clean-up hitter Spencer Brickhouse to end the game.

The Osprey will battle the Chukars again on Wednesday night in Idaho Falls.


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Bill Speltz is in his 13th year as Missoulian Sports Columnist. He also guides the sports dept., scheduling day-to-day coverage. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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