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Helena’s Chris McFarland is safe at home after tripping up Missoula Osprey catcher Michael Perez during action in the first inning of Monday night’s game at Ogren-Allegiance Park.

A night after the Missoula Osprey scored 12 runs on 16 hits in a shutout of the Pioneer League’s North Division first-half champion Great Falls Voyagers, the O’s struggled Monday in a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the league cellar-dweller Helena before 2,226 fans at Ogren-Allegiance Park.

Missoula’s bats didn’t wake up until late in the game as the Osprey tallied just one run and managed just two hits through seven innings.

The O’s sliced into a 5-1 deficit in the eighth, getting an RBI single from shortstop John Leonard and a two-out, two-run single off the bat of catcher Michael Perez.

Missoula center fielder Socrates Brito followed with runners on first and third, but couldn’t get his bat out of the way of an inside offering from Helena reliever Connor Whalen. The 2-2 delivery from Whalen somehow found the barrel of Brito’s bat as he ducked away from the pitch, producing a slow roller down the first-base line that Whalen fielded and fired to first for the final out of the inning.

The Osprey threatened to tie it in the ninth after second baseman Danny Pulfer drew a leadoff walk. But Whalen got Breland Almadova to ground into a fielder’s choice and Ty Linton flied to left before Brewers reliever Michael White entered and fanned Tyler Bream on three pitches.

“We have to find a way to be more consistent,” said Osprey manager Andy Green after his club fell to 1-1 in the season’s second half and 19-21 overall. “That’s the mark of a professional – just day in and day out you do the right thing, you do the same thing. It was good to see a little fight from the guys at the end of the ballgame.”

The Brewers (1-1, 14-26) took control early, scoring four runs in the top of the first off Osprey starting pitcher Jared Ray, who was tagged with the loss and fell to 1-4. In the opening frame, Helena scored on an error by Perez, Paul Eshelman was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and right fielder Ruben Ozuna smacked a two-run single to center.

Ray went six innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits and three walks. Ray fanned seven before giving way to Chris Thomas, who allowed a hit in two innings of work. Justin Thompson threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Helena added a fifth run on Perez’s second error of the evening in the sixth inning.

Though he struggled behind the dish, Green was more than pleased by the effort of Perez, who has been Missoula’s most consistent performer this season.

“I was very excited because Michael Perez did not have his best game, but he dug in in his last at-bat and delivered a big hit,” said Green. “That’s the sign of a guy who is going to be playing this game for a long time. That’s the kind of maturity I love to see in a ballplayer. I’m impressed that the guy probably had his worst game of the year defensively and he still stepped up and got the job done.”

Helena starting pitcher Leonard Lorenzo (2-3) earned the win in a five-inning effort, allowing a run on Almadova’s sacrifice fly in the second inning. On the night, Lorenzo was touched for just two hits, walked a pair and fanned seven, including Pedro Ruiz, Evan Marzilli and Jake Lamb in order in the bottom of the first.

“We came off a good game the night before and were a little more relaxed, but baseball will humble you,” said Osprey designated hitter Ty Linton, who went 2 for 4. “No matter if you’re 2 for 4 one day or 0 for 4 the next day, you can’t ride that high horse too long. That’s the great thing about this game. We’re going to come out and get them tomorrow.”

Notes: Entering the evening, Lorenzo had lost his last three decisions, all to South Division teams. ... The Osprey continue to struggle when trailing after five innings. They are 1-15 when behind after five frames. ... The Osprey are 12-15 in the month of July. ... Former Osprey Lyle Overbay was designated for assignment Monday by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Helena Missoula

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Reed cf 5 0 0 0 Ruiz ss 3 0 0 0

McFarlnd 2b 4 1 1 0 Leonrd ss 1 1 1 1

Rodrigz ss 4 1 1 0 Marzilli rf 3 0 1 0

Giacalne 1b 2 1 1 0 Lamb 3b 4 0 0 0

Turay dh 4 1 1 0 Perez c 3 1 1 2

Eshelman c 3 0 1 1 Brito cf 4 0 0 0

Ozuna lf 3 1 1 2 Pulfer 2b 3 0 1 0

Hernandz rf 4 0 0 0 Almadva lf 1 1 0 1

Martinez 3b 4 0 2 0 Linton dh 4 0 2 0

Bream 1b 4 1 0 0

Totals 33 5 8 3 Totals 30 4 6 4

Helena 400 001 000 – 5

Missoula 010 000 030 – 4

E – McFarland, Ray, Perez 2. DP – Helena 1, Missoula 2. LOB – Helena 5, Missoula 5. SF – Almadova, SB – Martinez (3), Ozuna 2 (6). CS – Giacalone (2), Almadova (1).

IP H R ER BB SO

Helena

Lorenzo W, 2-3 5.0 2 1 1 2 7

Mangum 2.1 2 3 3 1 2

Whalen 1.1 2 0 0 1 1

White S, 1 0.1 0 0 0 0 1

Missoula

Ray L, 1-4 6.0 6 5 4 3 7

Thomas 2.0 2 0 0 0 1

Thompson 1.0 0 0 0 0 1

WP – Lorenzo, Whalen. HBP – Eshleman (by Ray), Marzilli (by Lorenzo). Umpires – HP: Mitchell Morgan. 1B: Clint Vondrak. T – 2:45. A – 2,226.

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