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Travelers lose lead, then slip into tie in division race

The Arkansas Travelers surrendered their spot on top of the Texas League North Division in a 7-4 loss to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Tuesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.

The Travs (32-32) led by four runs until the Naturals (32-32) scored seven times in the fifth and sixth innings.

Filia traded to Red Sox

A few hours before first pitch, Arkansas Travelers outfielder Eric Filia was traded to the Boston Red Sox.

The Seattle Mariners anounced him as the player to be named later in their April 23 trade with the Red Sox for left-handed pitcher Roenis Elias.

Filia missed the first 50 games of the season while on the restricted list for second positive test for a drug of abuse. The 25-year-old was activated and placed with the Travs on May 30. Before getting traded, he was hitting a slash average of .426/.508/.537 in 13 with a home run and 14 RBI.

Filia won the Northwest League MVP and batting title in 2016, and last season he led the California League in on-base percentage (.407) while with Class High-A Modesto, which won the league championship.

Elias (1-0, 1.50 ERA) has pitched six innings for the Mariners out of the bullpen, and the 29-year-old has given up 4 hits, an earned run and a walk with 4 strikeouts.

— Brooks Kubena

Five of the Naturals runs came on two errors, two walks and a passed ball.

"You're not going to win doing that," Travs Manager Daren Brown said.

The Travs are now tied with the Naturals for first place, and today, Arkansas travels to Springfield, Mo., to begin 12 consecutive days of road games before the first half of the season ends.

The first-half winners in the Texas League's North and South divisions both automatically qualify for the playoffs.

The Travs scored all of its runs in the third inning -- a scoring flurry that began with a two-run double by designated hitter Dario Pizzano. Second baseman Chris Mariscal capped the inning with an RBI single that gave the Travs a 4-0 lead.

Travs right-hander Chase De Jong surrendered two runs in the fifth, then he was relieved when Naturals third baseman Jecksson Flores hit a one-out, RBI double to shrink the Travs lead to 4-3.

Travs righty reliever Art Warren walked in the tying run, then the Naturals scored three more runs off two errors and a walk to take the 7-4 lead.

Warren (1-2, 1.80 ERA) earned the loss without recording an out, and he gave up a hit and two walks. The three runs he surrendered were unearned due to the errors.

Naturals right-handed starter Zach Lovvorn (4-3, 5.40) earned the victory, pitching 5 innings with 6 hits, 4 earned runs a walk and a strikeout.

The Naturals won the four-game series 3-1, and they lead the season series 9-3.

When the Travelers began the nine-game homestand, they were a half-game behind the Springfield Cardinals for first place in the Texas League North Division standings.

The charge toward the top of the standings began on May 26, when the Travs were 22-25 and last in the Texas League.

Over the next 17 games, the Travs went 10-6 while scoring 6.3 runs per game.

Their top six RBI contributors batted .343 while slugging .491 during that stretch.

However, the Travs have allowed more runs (5.29 per game) during the stretch than it has during the entire season (4.29).

It is possible by the time the first half of the season ends on June 24, there will still be a tie at the top of the standings. All four teams in the North division are within two games of each other in the standings. If two teams are tied, then their next scheduled game against each other in the second half of the season will count as the tiebreaker.

If three teams are tied, two teams will play each other on the first date of the second half, and the winner will play the third team for the first-half title during their next regularly scheduled meeting in the second half.

There is no procedure in the Texas League rulebook for a four-way tie.

Sports on 06/13/2018

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