NORMAL — Normal manager Brooks Carey received exactly the type of start he wanted from Edgar De La Rosa at the Corn Crib on Wednesday.
Carey did not, however, get the desired finish.
After De La Rosa sparkled over six scoreless innings, Washington pushed across five eighth-inning runs and captured a 6-2 Frontier League victory before a crowd of 1,216.
"We didn't get the job done in the late innings," Carey said. "(Closer Shawn) Blackwell had a bad night. But he's not a machine. If I lose a game with Blackwell on the mound, I sleep well at night."
Normal had assumed a 2-0 lead in the second against Washington starter and 2016 Frontier League ERA champion Trevor Foss.
Singles by Jesus Solorzano, Nolan Meadows and Justin Fletcher loaded the bases. After Solorzano was forced at home on a Diego Cedeno grounder Meadows scored as Miguel Torres bounced into a fielder's choice.
When the throw to first trying to complete a double play sailed wide, Fletcher brought in the second run.
Yet Foss (7-3) turned stingy quite abruptly. The right-hander allowed just three hits over the final seven innings, finishing with four strikeouts and no walks.
"He pumps strikes on both corners and doesn't give you a whole lot to hit," Carey said. "He is exactly what everybody looks for, a guy with good stuff who throws strikes at the knees. That gets the job done."
De La Rosa, who sported a problematic 10.45 ERA through his first three starts with Normal, was a different hurler. The 6-foot-7 righty had both control and command of his mid 90s fastball and offspeed pitches while allowing just three hits and striking out eight over six innings.
"The arm is back," said Carey. "It took him two or three starts to get it cranked up, but it's there. It's very encouraging."
Normal reliever Jonathan De Marte pitched around a Kenny Peoples-Walls triple in the seventh before encountering eighth-inning trouble.
John Fidanza drew a leadoff walk and Rashad Brown singled, prompting Carey to summon Blackwell from the bullpen.
Justin Bohn singled in Fidanza to cut the Belters' lead to 2-1. Blackwell (4-2) then recorded two outs but the tying run touched home plate as Bralin Jackson grounded out.
Hector Roa's ground-rule double to right-center field handed the Wild Things a 3-2 edge, and Mike Hill made it 5-2 with a two-run homer.
The series concludes Thursday with a first pitch of 6:35 p.m.
Pitching changes: Normal released pitchers Steven Calhoun and Matthew Hasenbeck on Wednesday, the 10th and 11th pitchers let go by the team over the first half of the season.
Hasenbeck had posted a 6.75 ERA over 24 innings. The right-hander appeared in 15 games, starting two. Calhoun had a 9.81 ERA over three games and 3⅔ innings.
Carey expects to make the signings of pitchers Sixto Torres, Matt Portland and Ben McKendall official Thursday, meaning one more release is yet to come.
"Three new pitchers will be on the roster," said Carey. "If everything goes as planned, the three new guys will probably split the game up tomorrow (Thursday). One will have to go into the rotation."
Portland and McKendall were both recently released by the Lincoln (Neb.) Saltdogs of the American Association.
A left-hander who formerly toiled in the Kansas City Royals organization, Portland had a 5.85 ERA in 20 innings. The right-handed McKendall starred at NAIA program Bellevue (9-1 record, 2.18 ERA) this spring before posting a 5.78 ERA in 18⅔ innings for Lincoln.
Torres is a left-hander who formerly pitched in the New York Mets farm system.