Tony Rizzotti had pitched three scoreless innings to maintain a tie. When he went back out for the bottom of the ninth, it all fell apart.
The TinCaps right-hander allowed two singles and then a game-ending RBI double to Anthony Santander in a 3-2 loss at Lake County on Monday.
Rizzotti (2-2) continued a teamwide string of late failings in close games.
The TinCaps (17-26) have dropped five straight, none by more than two runs.
Lake County (14-30) is the only team with a worse record in the Midwest League.
The Captains were swept in a three-game series at Fort Wayne last week but got better pitching at Classic Park on Monday.
The TinCaps, who had 25 runs in those three games, had just three hits and two runs, one of which scored on an error.
After Dustin Peterson’s one-out homer in the first, Fort Wayne had just four base runners the rest of the way.
Lake County’s Adam Plutko went seven innings and gave up one earned run on three hits with seven strikeouts.
Ben Heller (3-0) retired all six batters he faced.
The TinCaps received more solid pitching from Kyle Lloyd, who allowed two runs and three hits in five innings. He struck out eight.
After the TinCaps caught a break and tied it at 2 on Claudio Bautista’s two-out error in the sixth, Rizzotti got them through the sixth, seventh and eighth without many problems.
Then Grant Fink and Eric Haase started the bottom of the ninth with back-to-back singles, and Santander whacked his double to right.
The Nos. 3-7 hitters in the Fort Wayne order did not reach base in 17 plate appearances.
Righty Coby Cowgill (2-1) is scheduled to face Mitch Brown (0-6) at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the second of the three-game series.