Cougars lose big lead, game

Special to the Daily Herald
Updated 9/1/2011 11:25 PM

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The Kane County Cougars saw a 6-1 lead turn into a 9-6 loss Thursday night as the Kernels scored 8 straight runs at Veterans Memorial Stadium to take Game 2 of the three-game set.

The Cougars had won six consecutive head-to-head meetings against Cedar Rapids and eight of the last 10.

The Cougars led 6-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Kernels got 7 consecutive hits before an out was recorded. Tyler Graham yielded 5 runs, and Mike Giovenco (0-2) gave up 1 more and then 2 in the eighth.

The Cougars loaded the bases in the ninth with one out but could not score, as Manny Correa nailed down the save for reliever Erik Gregersen (1-0).

The Kernels' comeback forced starter Greg Billo to take a no-decision. Billo gave up 1 run on 2 hits, walked none and fanned one in his final regular-season start.

He finished the regular season with a 9-5 record and a league-best 1.93 ERA. That ERA also currently is tied with two pitchers for the best in the minor leagues.