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Lambson's shutdown relief keeps Rafters afloat

Salt River takes control behind Astros' lefty prospect with five-run fifth inning

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Before the Salt River Rafters could start their comeback Wednesday night, they needed to escape the first inning.

The Scottsdale Scorpions struck for four runs in the game's opening frame and chased Rafters starter Christian Bergman out of the game after just two-thirds of an inning.

The Rafters called on left-handed reliever Mitch Lambson to escape the jam, and once he did, Salt River fought its way back to win, 8-4.

Box score

"We got down early, but we've been there before this fall," Lambson said. "This team, we stayed loose in the dugout and knew four at-bats could change the game and get us back in the game."

The Scorpions got off to a fast start as Josh Bell, the Pirates' No. 3 prospect according to, drove in two with a base hit. Two batters later, Matt Reynolds, the Mets' No. 20 prospect, roped a two-run double to left-center.

The game was on the verge of turning into a rout, but Lambson came in with a runner on second and got the final out of the inning.

"From the start of the game, down in the bullpen, you've got to be ready because you never know what's going to happen," Lambson said. "So I was ready to go early and just tried to keep us in the game."

The Astros farmhand pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced, and has not allowed a run in any of his last four outings.

"I tried to come in and throw strikes and keep us in the game," Lambson said. "They got off to a quick start. I just wanted to keep us in the game and give us a chance to get some runs on the board and come back."

After posting a 2.14 ERA in 40 appearances between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi, Lambson has continued to excel with a 1.50 ERA in nine AFL appearances.

Lambson provided some much needed shutdown relief, but the Rafters still needed to scratch some runs across.

After tallying just three hits and one run through the first four innings, the Rafters' offense found its rhythm in the fifth.

Taking advantage of multiple Scottsdale mistakes, Salt River scored five runs in the fifth inning to take the lead. The D-backs' No. 6 prospect, Brandon Drury, capped the inning with a two-run triple.

The win bumps Salt River to 16-6-3 on the season, and as the Rafters continue to chase an East Division championship, Lambson -- a product of Arizona State University -- is enjoying his homecoming.

"It's really nice to be home," Lambson said. "I've got a lot of family and friends that can come out and watch the games, so it's nice being close to home, and I like Arizona, it's beautiful this time of year. It's definitely nice."

William Boor is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.
Read More: Houston Astros, Mitch Lambson