Surprise returned the favor Thursday with a 5-4 win at Salt River, despite a furious ninth-inning rally that came up short.
Down 5-1 heading into their last at-bat, the Rafters scored three runs, but Chris Owings struck out to end the game. Matt Davidson's solo shot and Jake Marisnick's two-run homer had cut the deficit to one.
The Rafters did not have that many opportunities against the Surprise pitching staff, going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
Nationals prospect Anthony Rendon played third base, batting second. He went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI while improving his batting average to .328. His RBI double got the scoring started in the first inning.
Matt Skole, Jason Martinson and Brian Goodwin did not play.
Paul Demny tossed 1 1/3 innings in relief. He allowed two hits, one run and struck out two in facing six hitters. His ERA is now 2.77.
Salt River fell to 13-11, but benefited from Scottsdale's fourth straight loss, so the Rafters' East Division lead remains at 1 1/2 games.
The Rafters host the last place Mesa Solar Sox (8-16) today at 2:35 p.m.
Instant Analysis: Rendon again with an extra base hit and Demny strikes out two, but not much else for the Nationals in this one. Would have been nice to see what Goodwin, Martinson (although he is on the taxi squad) and Skole could have done against the Saguaros pitching staff.
Salt River managed 12 hits but only had four major scoring opportunities and got all of their offense from the two homers and the Rendon double. Still, this team is powerful enough to win the division and should take it to a Mesa team that has floundered to 16 losses.