The Lincoln Saltdogs' offense sputtered before running out of gas Wednesday at Haymarket Park in a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee.
Lincoln (15-17) did not have a baserunner after the fifth inning until Ivan Marin drew a one-out walk in the ninth. Marin's walk also ended a streak of seven consecutive strikeouts that started in the seventh inning.
The Saltdogs, who lead the league in strikeouts and set a franchise record with 20 strikeouts June 10 in a 12-inning loss in Sioux City, combined to strike out 11 times Wednesday.
“Strikeouts have become more prevalent all the way at the big-league level and all the way down to minor-league levels,” Lincoln manager Bobby Brown said. "All these guys have played in the minor leagues.
“For me, I'm an old-school type of guy and you have to have a little of pride and make some sort of two-strike adjustment. At times during this season when we have struggled offensively, we haven't made those adjustments.”
Milwaukee relievers Zach Hartman and Carlos Diaz combined for eight strikeouts. Hartman struck out six of the eight Saltdogs he faced, including five in a row before being relieved for Diaz.
“Tip your caps to them, but like like I said, we have to make some adjustments at the plate,” Brown said.
Nick Tepesch started strong for Lincoln, but gave up a two-run home run in the top of the fourth to Garrett Copeland that provided the Milkmen with a 2-1 lead. The 6-foot-4 Tepesch went six innings, allowing four runs on six hits, as Milwaukee added two more runs in the fifth.
Despite the home run, Brown thought Tepesch pitched another outstanding game. The Blue Springs, Missouri, native fell to 4-3 and has suffered the loss in his last three starts.
“(The home run) is magnified because we aren't scoring runs,” Brown said. “John (Brownell, who suffered a 4-2 loss Tuesday) and Tepesch pitched good enough to win.
“Brownell gives up a solo home run (Tuesday) and Tepesch gives up a two-run home run.
“It's just magnified because of our struggles of the last couple days on offense.”
Lincoln took a 1-0 lead in the third, provided by an RBI fielder's choice from Randolph Oduber that scored Christian Ibarra.
Cody Regis, who had one of the Saltdogs' four hits, cut into Milwaukee's lead in the fifth with an RBI double to score Curt Smith.
The Saltdogs and Milkmen conclude the series Thursday at 7 p.m.