The plot is different but every night but it seems the same. The Wild Things are riding that boulder down the Frontier League mountainside, and they are not going to be able to throw it into reverse, it seems, until they hit rock bottom.

Or win a few one-run games.

Washington lost another close one Tuesday night that dropped it further out of the playoff hunt.

Tanner Murphy hit a two-run homer and four River City pitchers combined on a five-hitter as the Rascals edged the Wild Things 3-2 in a series opener.

It also dropped the Wild Things’ record in one-run games to an unthinkable 3-15.

“I’ve said it all year. Close ones have been an issue for us,” Washington manager Gregg Langebhn said. “We didn’t have any situational baseball to play in this one because we didn’t have baserunners.”

Washington scored its runs on a pair of solo home runs, one by first baseman Alex Murphy in the second inning.

That home run ended a string of 271/3 consecutive scoreless innings by River City pitchers against Washington this season. The Rascals shut out Washington in the final two games of a four-game series that opened the season in May.

The other Washington run was a solo homer by catcher Cody Erickson in the seventh.

“We play well but we don’t always play well enough to win consistently,” Langbehn said.

Both Washington home runs came off River City starter Alex Winkelman (6-2). He allowed only three hits in 6 2/3 innings. Winkelman did walk four but struck out seven.

Jason Zgardowski got the final five outs for his seventh save. He struck out pinch-hitter Cameron Baranek with two runners on base to end the eighth inning. That was Washington’s only at-bat all night with a runner in scoring position.

“Zgardowski has been great for us,” River City manager Steve Brook said. “Without him, we’d have major issues.”

What River City currently has is the final wild-card berth if the playoffs started today. The Rascals have done a good job of overcoming losing pitchers to major league organizations. They lost their fourth of the season, starter Micah Kazor (2-1, 1.46), to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday.

“That’s great to have. That’s what we’re here for,” said Brook, who will be searching or trading for another starting pitcher in the coming days.

River City jumped on Washington starter Nick Wegmann (3-5) for three runs over the first two innings and that was all the Rascals needed. L.J. Kalawaia led off the game with a single and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.

In the second, Murphy hit a two-run homer down the left-field line to make it 3-0.

Wegmann gave up eight hits and two walks over six innings.

“He wasn’t really sharp early but settled in. He gave us a chance to win,” Langbehn said. “We just haven’t hit with runners on base all year.”

Extra bases

Washington made two roster moves prior to the game. On Monday, it acquired third baseman Stephen Lohr in a trade with Southern Illinois. The Wild Things will give up a player to be named. Washington also signed second baseman J.R. Davis, who was released from the Seattle Mariners’ farm system. Both Lohr and Davis were in the lineup. Lohr was 0-for-3 and Davis went 1-for-4. … Langbehn said that starting pitcher John Havird (4-4, 4.09) will be activated this week. He has been on the inactive list (bereavement).

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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