The Bowling Green Hot Rods saw a five-game win streak come to an end with a 2-1 loss to South Bend (Ind.) on Saturday at Bowling Green Ballpark.

South Bend (72-57 overall, 35-26) used a two-out, ninth-inning rally to scratch across the game-winner and move within two games of the Hot Rods for the Midwest League Eastern Division lead with nine games remaining.

“It was a good game,” BG manager Reinaldo Ruiz said. “We just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed and they did. That was the difference in the game. I think both teams pitched really well. The defenses were really good, too. We just couldn’t get the big hit.”

Offense came at a premium Saturday, with South Bend using a pair of flurries to plate its two runs.

Three straight hits in the fourth off BG starter Easton McGee led to a fielder’s choice that pushed the Cubs in front 1-0. Bowling Green (76-55, 37-24) quickly answered in the bottom of the inning when Nick Schnell tripled and came home on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Aranda.

It remained 1-all until the ninth when South Bend started a rally with two outs and no one on – three straight hits off reliever Michael Costanzo, capped by an RBI single to left by Fidel Mejia. The Hot Rods were unable to rally, with Brian Glowicki retiring BG in order.

South Bend outhit the Hot Rods 8-4.

McGee went six innings for the Hot Rods, allowing one run and four hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Costanzo took the loss after allowing one run and four hits in three innings, dropping to 1-3 on the season.

“Both pitchers did a really good job,” Ruiz said. “That last inning, Costanzo just couldn’t finish – get the third out without any damage – but both pitchers did a really good job. Easton pitched really well. He was hitting all his spots.”

RACE TO THE FINISH

Saturday began a 10-day stretch between the two teams in the best position to claim the second half Eastern Division title. The Hot Rods will host South Bend the next three games and the two teams will wrap up the season with three in South Bend next weekend.

“It’s definitely going to be interesting,” Ruiz said. “We want to clinch (a playoff spot) and we also want to win the division. They have been playing really well. I think it’s one of those things where any mistake, any little thing, will be the difference in the game.”

MAGIC NUMBER

With the Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts’ loss Saturday, the Hot Rods’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to 3.

UP NEXT

The series continues at 2:05 p.m. Sunday.

Right-hander Zack Trageton (4-0, 1.48) is scheduled to start for the Hot Rods. Trageton has won three straight starts, allowing one run and 10 hits with 22 strikeouts over 18 innings of work. He has yet to face South Bend this season.

Left-hander Faustino Carrera (8-6, 3.29) is scheduled to start for South Bend. Carrera is 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts in August and has a 2.68 ERA in nine road starts. He is 1-1 with a 0.82 in two starts against the Hot Rods this season.{&end}

– Follow Hot Rods reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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