MISSOULA — Falling behind early has become a nasty habit for the Missoula Osprey.
For the third night in a row the O's spotted their opponent a sizeable lead. And for the third straight night they failed to catch up in dropping a 9-3 decision to the Ogden Raptors Monday at Ogren-Allegiance Park.
The Raptors, who own the best record in the Pioneer League South at 23-6, dinged up Missoula starting pitcher Patrick McGuff for three runs in the second inning. Jimmy Titus was the culprit, smacking a three-run home run to left field.
With the help of three errors, Missoula answered with two runs in the bottom half. Ogden responded with an Andy Pages solo home run in the third and three more runs in the fourth, stretching its lead to 7-2.
McGuff was lifted in the fifth after surrendering his eighth run. Missoula landed two runners aboard in the bottom half but failed to capitalize.
The Osprey ended a string of four scoreless innings with a run in the seventh off reliever Jeff Belge. Cam Coursey walked, moved up on a Tristen Carranza base hit and scored on a wild pitch.
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Ogden stretched its lead to 9-3 on a Sam McWilliams solo home run off Ryan Fritze in the eighth. The Raptors finished with an 11-3 advantage in hits.
The Osprey fell to 15-14 and were in jeopardy of losing their share of first in the Pioneer League North at press time. The Idaho Falls Chukars, who shared the top spot with the O's heading into Monday's action, led visiting Orem by a 6-5 score in the ninth inning at press time.
McGuff (3-2) took the loss, allowing eight earned runs on eight hits with three walks. Landon Whitson pitched well in relief, holding the Raptors scoreless for three-plus innings.
Missoula was the better defensive team. Ogden committed four errors and the hosts played errorless ball for nine innings.
Spencer Brickhouse had a double and Kevin Watson and Carranza each had a single for the O's. Titus racked up four hits for the visitors.
The Osprey will try to snap Ogden's eight-game win streak when the teams meet Tuesday night in Missoula.