Chukars drop third straight to Rockies

Idaho Falls Chukar Brawlun Gomez slides over the plate to score on a wild pitch as Grand Junction Rockies pitcher Alec Kenilvort misses the throw back to home in the top of the seventh inning of Friday’s game at Suplizio Field.

It’s getting late early for the Idaho Falls Chukars.

Grand Junction scored in each of the first four innings before pulling way late for a 7-4 win over Idaho Falls in front of 2,543 fans at Sam Suplizio Field, sending the Chukars to their fifth loss in the first six games of the Pioneer League’s second half. It was the sixth loss in the past seven games for I.F. while Grand Junction has won nine of its past 11.

Idaho Falls pitcher Jake Newberry struggled for the third straight start, giving up four runs (three earned in five innings. Newberry, a 37th-round pick in 2012, allowed just

seven earned runs in his first five outings but has given up (18) in the past three.

Wander Franco broke out of his slump, going 2 for 5 with a double. Franco was in an 0-for-17 rut before hitting an infield single in the fourth.

Brandon Downes had a big day for the Chukars, going 2 for 5 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI. Corey Toups added a double and an RBI while Kyle Pollock chipped in a double and an RBI.

But it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Rockies scored two runs in the first and single runs in the second and third to take a 4-0 lead. I.F. cut the lead in half with runs in the fifth and seventh. Grand Junction broke it open in the eighth, getting a leadoff home run from Kevin Padlo and an RBI triple from Luis Jean. The final run scored on a wild pitch.

I.F. tried to rally in the ninth, getting an RBI double from Downes and a RBI single from Samir Duenez before things fizzled out.

The win gave Grand Junction a 6-5 lead in the season series heading into the final game of the series tonight. The Chukars are off Sunday before returning to Melaleuca Field to begin a four-game series against Helena.