05/16/2010 6:46 PM ET
By Eric Gallo / Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Springfield, MO-Offense was on fully display as the Naturals closed out their series with Springfield Sunday afternoon. However, A late rally by the Naturals fell just short, and the Cardinals completed the sweep with a 10-9 win.

The Cardinals (20-16) went right to work, and scored two runs in the first inning. Springfield put the first two men on base thanks to back-to-back walks. A single by Matt Carpenter loaded the bases, and Steven Hill followed with a base hit of his own that scored Adron Chambers. With one out, Aaron Luna singled to center, which scored Pete Kozma. The runs gave the Cardinals the early 2-0 advantage.

The game was still 2-0, when Springfield scored a run in the fifth inning. Hill reached base on a walk, and Curt Smith got on base thanks to a Naturals' error. Luna one again came through with a base hit to left, which brought Hill home.

Up 3-0, Springfield broke the game wide open adding five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Antonio DeJesus led the inning off by getting hit by a pitch. Chambers then laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced DeJesus to second. Kozma then scored DeJesus with a base hit to right. Carpenter then followed with a single to center that put two men on base. Hill then came through with a double to left, and Kozma was able to score. With two on and one out, Smith crushed a three run homer over the center field wall. The shot put the Cardinals up 8-0.

The Naturals (21-14) offense was held off the scoreboard until it roared to life in the seventh inning. Tim Smith got the inning going with a base hit, and Ernesto Mejia then reached base after being hit by a pitch. Anthony Seratelli followed with a single to right, which loaded the bases. Paulo Orlando then scored Smith with a hit to left for the Naturals first run. With the bases still loaded, Derrick Robinson hit a sacrifice fly that scored Mejia. Johnny Giavotella was then walked, and the bases were once again full. Mike Moustakas changed that when he blasted a grand slam over the right field wall. The shot was Moustakas's seventh homer of the season, and it cut Springfield's lead to 8-6.

With the Naturals back in the game, Springfield responded with two more runs in the bottom of the eighth. Carpenter led the inning off with a single to center field. Carpenter was able to score when Smith hit into a force attempt, but a Naturals error let the run come in. A sacrifice fly by Luna scored Smith, and the Cardinals' lead was 10-6.

The Naturals did not quit even as they were down to their final three outs. Derrick Robinson hit a one out single to reach base, and Moustakas was walked with two outs. With two on two out, Clint Robinson jacked a three run home run over the right field wall. The shot was Smith's fourth of the season, and cut deficit to just one. However Jeff Howell then struck out to end the game, and the Naturals' rally fell just short.

Mike Montgomery (2-1) started the game for the Naturals, and suffered the loss. Montgomery pitched just three innings, gave up two earned runs, walked three, and struck out just one. Rowdy Hardy was shelled in relief of Montgomery. Hardy threw three innings, gave up six earned runs, and struck out two.

David Kopp (4-0) stayed unbeaten on the season with a victory. Kopp threw five shutout innings, walked one, and struck out six. Eduardo Sanchez came on for the last out, and picked up his ninth save of the season.

The Naturals will look to get back to their winning ways, as they will begin an eight game home stand starting Monday. The Naturals division lead is now down to just a game and a half. Monday the Naturals will start a series with Tulsa, and game time is set for 7:00 p.m.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state of the art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. You can purchase tickets and group outings with the Naturals by calling (479) 927-4900.