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Another walk-off win for RailCats

RailCats base runner Brian Kolb (left) is tagged out third by Kansas City third baseman Jeff Squier after attempting steal

RailCats base runner Brian Kolb (left) is tagged out at third by Kansas City third baseman Jeff Squier after attempting to steal in the bottom of the seventh inning at the Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., Tuesday, June 25, 2013. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 27, 2013 6:43AM



GARY — The way it happens varies.

But these walk-off wins are becoming a habit for the RailCats

Drew Martinez scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth inning, as they edged Kansas City 4-3 on Tuesday at the Steel Yard.

The RailCats (22-15) have won six straight games, including three in walk-off fashion, and eight of their last nine. They already have matched their season-best streak from 2012, when they won a half-dozen in a row from Aug. 6 to 11.

Will Krout didn’t factor into the decision, but his start — his best one of the season — was encouraging for the RailCats. Taking the mound for the first time since leaving his June 17 turn at Wichita because of a “tweak” in his shoulder, the right-hander went seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

“It was one of those things in Wichita where I think I freaked out more than the injury was. But that week off, I don’t want to say calmed me down, but it helped with everything that had gone wrong in the past four weeks,” said Krout, who had lost three straight starts before Tuesday, and still has gone 0-4 in his last six since recording his only win of the season on May 24.

“All that fear went away on Saturday (during his bullpen session). I went out there today, it was just nice, easy, free flow, pitch, not thinking about the shoulder.”

RailCats manager Greg Tagert said there was “some genuine concern” when Krout left his previous start. But any concern seemed to melt away against the T-Bones (15-23).

“Will did a great job coming back off,” Tagert said. “The rest obviously did him some good, and he felt confident — that’s the most important thing. When he got cleared and he knew mentally he was OK, that helped tremendously. You could see the way he competed today.”

Martinez hustled his way to the game-winning run. With the T-Bones outfield already playing deep in a no-doubles defense, he lined a ball to right-center to start the ninth, taking the extra base when they were slow to get the ball back to the infield. After Danny Pulfer got down a sacrifice bunt, and pinch-hitter Ryan Babineau struck out, Chad Robinson uncorked on wild pitch to Adam Klein, with Martinez racing home.

The RailCats had taken a 3-2 lead with two runs in the seventh. Brian Kolb, extending his hit streak to 12 games, and pinch-hitter Pulfer each had an RBI single. The T-Bones tied the score with a run in the eighth against Marco Gonzalez.

Clay Zavada (5-1) picked up the win by working the ninth, his 11th straight scoreless inning. But he apparently has been experiencing tightness in his forearm, and Tagert headed to the mound after a two-out walk to Ray Sadler, before Zavada struck out Steve Yoo to end the game.

“We’re going to be careful with him the next two or three days,” Tagert said.

“We did have some concern about Clay Zavada. (Catcher Craig) Maddox motioned us to come out. He’s been used a lot. … We’ve just played so many tight games, but we don’t want to hurt him. He wanted to pitch today; he didn’t want to come out of the game.”

Before the game, with Krout getting activated from the disabled list, the RailCats traded first baseman Steve Liddle to Southern Illinois of the Frontier League for a player to be named later, opening up the roster spot. In 25 games, including 22 starts at first, Liddle, who had been the team’s primary No. 5 hitter, batted .226 with no home runs and eight RBI.

“He never quite got untracked for us, but he’s been a true pro,” Tagert said.

“It was a tough decision, but we knew we had to create something.”

Note: Morgan Coombs (2-0, 6.00 ERA) is scheduled to start on Wednesday night for the RailCats, against Kansas City righty Eric Gonzalez (1-2, 6.37).



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