June 29, 2013 Updated: June 29, 2013 at 12:05 am
Colorado Springs recorded a big defensive play and an even bigger hit to rally for a 4-2 victory over Tucson late Friday night.
Colorado Springs catcher Ben Paulsen connected for his 11th homer of the season on a two-run shot over the left-field fence in the bottom of the eighth to push the Sky Sox ahead by two runs.
Reliever Logan Kensing recorded a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save, his fourth in a row.
The Sky Sox (44-36) came up with a big defensive play to end the top of the eighth and maintain the 2-2 tie.
Center fielder Charlie Blackmon fired a quick throw off a single to shortstop Charlie Culberson who tagged out Tucson's Daniel Robertson after he rounded second base. The out was recorded before the runner scored to keep it tied.
The game-turning plays came after a rain delay ended Sky Sox starter Jeff Francis' night and allowed right-hander Edgmer Escalona to get some rehab relief work. He allowed one hit over 1 1/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts. He threw 25 pitches, 20 for strikes.
The severe thunderstorm that roared through northern El Paso County prompted the two-hour, 12-minute stoppage and forced some of the crowd of 4,649 huddled under the concourse roof at Security Service Field
Colorado Springs tied the game at 2-2 when Blackmon's sacrifice fly cashed in a Culberson leadoff single in the fifth. Culberson stole second and advanced to third on an Hernan Iribarren ground out to set up the score.
Francis recorded three 1-2-3 innings to start the game with three strikeouts on 38 pitches, 25 for strikes. He kept the ball down in the strike zone, drawing five ground outs, three in the third, and a single fly out.
Tucson (44-38) took advantage of the three hits Francis allowed. Daniel Robertson's leadoff triple in the fourth caromed off the left-field wall and set up an RBI ground out by Gregorio Petit two pitches later that tied the game at 1-1.
Chris Robinson's sacrifice fly to right made it 2-1 after Ben Francisco singled and Jonathan Galvez doubled in the fifth.
The Sky Sox went ahead 1-0 in the second after Culberson's leadoff single was moved across by two ground outs and a single by Ryan Wheeler, his 48th RBI this season. That hit extended Culberson's hitting streak to 15 games.
Francis threw 76 pitches, including 49 strikes, and allowed two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.
The Famous San Diego Chicken performs July 4-5
For the first time since 1997, The Famous San Diego Chicken will be in the Sky Sox in-game festivities July 4-5. Both game are at 7:05 p.m. with gates opening at 5 Thursday and 6 Friday.
The Chicken will stay after each game to sign an autograph for everyone in attendance. The appearances, the entertainer's only ones this season, are during the baseball icon's first summer off in 39 years.
The Sky Sox added Escalona for a MLB rehab assignment. Escalona pitched 21 games (1-2, 4.18) for the Rockies before going on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. ... Starting pitcher Juan Nicasio was optioned by the Rockies to Colorado Springs. Nicasio, 26, went 4-4 with a 5.31 ERA (81.1 innings) in 16 starts. Over parts of three seasons with Colorado, Nicasio, who skipped Triple-A, has 40 career starts and has gone 10-11 with a 4.91 ERA (211 innings), 234 hits, 70 walks and 168 strikeouts. ... Righty C.J. Fick was released by the Sky Sox to make room for infielder Reid Brignac (No. 6). . Culberson hit his sixth triple Thursday to up the team total to a professional baseball-leading 52 on the season. He is the third to hit at least five triples (Corey Dickerson 13, Paulsen 9). . Thursday's doubleheader sweep put Tucson alone in first place in its PCL division for the first time in team history.