Colorado Springs infielders may never exactly know what to expect from each grounder off the dirt at Security Service Field.
But they looked plenty able in a strong defensive performance that led to a 5-2 win over Tucson before 6,121 fans.
"We are playing loose because we never know how it may bounce," third baseman Ryan Wheeler said Saturday. "The pitchers have kept their pitches down (in the strike zone) and the ball from being hit hard."
The Sky Sox recorded 23 groundouts, 15 behind starter Chris Volstad, who threw seven innings, 6 ? of shutout ball. The Pacific Coast League game ended on a double play.
"Volstad is one of those guys who always had good stuff," said Greg Golson, whose timely RBI single in the fourth made it 3-0. "Hitting and pitching both go through ups and downs. We feel we will get both going now."
Earlier, Wheeler doubled home Charlie Blackmon and Ben Paulsen hit a triple on the next pitch to make it 2-0 for Colorado Springs (45-36).
Wheeler's sacrifice fly to left field in the seventh was his 50th RBI and scored Charlie Culberson, who had earlier recorded a hit for the 16th game in a row, for a 4-2 lead.
"I feel like I bear down a little bit more when runners are on base than when they are empty," Wheeler said of his knack for timely hits. "I need to work on that."
Tucson catcher Rene Rivera's RBI grounder ended Volstad's shutout bid and made it 3-1 in the seventh. Jonathan Galvez then banged a double off the wall to score Rivera and trim the lead to 3-2.
Cook, Francis make progress
Left-hander Jeff Francis kept his pitches low, a focus during his time in Colorado Springs, and pitched well enough (12 groundouts, three hits, two earned runs, 5 ? innings) Friday to keep his team in the game, a 4-2 win.
"It was really good for his confidence to get that result," manager Glenallen Hill said.
Sky Sox fans may see injured right-hander Aaron Cook in action soon. Cook will throw a bullpen session Monday, taking another step toward an eventual return to the lineup.
"We'll re-evaluate after that," Cook said.
Edgmer Escalona's rehabilitation assignment ended Saturday with the right-handed reliever headed back to the Rockies after one hit and two strikeouts in 1 ? innings work Friday. . Right-hander Drew Carpenter (3-7, 6.96 ERA) was released. .. Outfielder Kent Matthes, who hit four home runs in his first four games, is on the disabled list with back spasms, retroactive to Thursday. ... Paulsen's triple was his 10th this season, making him the 10th Sky Sox to do so and push the pro baseball-leading team into fifth all-time with 54. The franchise record is 74 in 1992.