It's been a while since Baron Short was asked to start a game for the Owlz.
After Friday night's performance, Short may not have to wait so long for his next one.
Short (3-2) allowed just two runs and four hits in five innings as the Owlz defeated the Helena Brewers 9-3 at Brent Brown Ballpark.
"I just tried to keep the ball down," said Short, who was making his first start since August 20, a game the Owlz lost 6-5 at Billings. "My defense worked hard for me."
The only blemishes on an otherwise brilliant night for Short were two solo home runs by Cutter Dykstra and Brock Kjeldgaard in the top of the fourth. Kjeldgaard's blast was his 10th of the season.
The decision to use Short Friday night came because manager Tom Kotchman decided Andrew Taylor, who was being used as the team's fifth starter, was more suitable for the bullpen.
In three starts, Taylor was 0-1 with an ERA of 21.60, allowing 15 runs and 13 hits in just five innings. Out of the bullpen, Taylor is 1-0 with an ERA of 2.41 in 18 2/3 innings.
Regardless of how Short is used, he claims his approach on the mound won't change.
"My confidence is going to be the same," Short said. "You're pitching for your team."
Along with Short's performance, the Owlz were also aided by the extreme wildness of the Brewers pitching staff.
Brewers pitchers threw a total of seven wild pitches Friday night, three of which resulted in runners scoring form third.
The Owlz (32-17) got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the third on a homer to right by Beau Brooks, his second of the season. Brooks, who entered the contest hitting just .169 in 71 at-bats, collected his first multi-hit game of the season by going 2-for-4.
"It's been a different approach the last few games," Brooks said. "I've been too picky. I was trying to swing at more strikes."
Brooks thinks the two-hit night will provide a boost going forward.
"When you've been struggling (and then to) center up a few balls, it's huge," Brooks said.
The Owlz wasted little time retaking the lead after the Brewers (23-26) scored two in the top of the fourth.
Luis Jimenez led off the bottom of the fourth by scorching a double into the left-field corner. Donato Giovanatto came up next and knocked a single to center, advancing Jimenez to third. After Tyson Auer lined out to second, Ryan Groth came up and sent one deep over the right-field fence for a three-run homer to give the Owlz a 4-2 lead.
Kotchman was impressed with Groth's blast.
"In this park, you can get some cheap homers," Kotchman said. "That was not a cheap homer."
In the bottom of the fifth, the Owlz added two more despite getting just one hit. With one out, Chris Garcia was hit in the face by a pitch. Garcia crumpled to the ground before eventually being assisted to the dugout.
Roberto Lopez then smacked a double down the left-field line, sending Marcel Champagnie, who was running for Garcia, to third. After a pitching change, Brandon Ritchie uncorked two wild pitches to Jimenez that allowed both Champagnie and Lopez to score.
The Owlz added two in the sixth and one in the seventh to extend the lead to 9-2.
The Brewers final run of the evening came in the top of the eighth off Owlz reliever Cephas Howard.
Josh Keller, an undrafted free agent from Portland, Ore. who was making his Pioneer League debut, pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh for the Owlz. He allowed no hits and walked one.
Howard pitched the final two innings for the Owlz, allowing a run and four hits. He walked one and struck out five.The Owlz and Brewers will conclude the three-game series tonight at 7:05 p.m.
E-mail: [email protected]