In an all-or-nothing game, Cristian Javier and Salvador Montano gave it their all Thursday.
With rehabbing Houston Astros catcher Evan Gattis working behind the plate, Javier and Montano combined to craft a three-hitter which led Quad-Cities past Peoria 4-1 and evened the best-of-three Midwest League Western Division semifinal series and one win apiece.
The River Bandits and Chiefs will return to Modern Woodmen Park to play the third-and-deciding game of the series at 6:30 p.m. today.
Javier scattered three hits while striking out six batters over six innings before Montano sat down four in three hitless innings of relief.
“I had to come out and give 100 percent. I felt very comfortable from the start,’’ said Javier, speaking through translator and strength coach Hazael Wessin. “I was able to pitch with confidence and attack the zone early in every count.’’
The 6-foot-1 right hander found working with Gattis to be an added benefit.
“He gave me a big target,’’ Javier said. “It was good to get the chance to pitch to him.’’
Gattis made sharp contact but went hitless in four at-bats in his first game action with the River Bandits, filling the three hole in the order right behind Colin Moran.
The rehabbing Astros infielder reached base in each of his four plate appearances, following a first-inning double with two singles before reaching on a walk.
“I’m just starting to get back into things and everything is starting to feel normal again,’’ said Moran, who has been with Quad-Cities for the past week. “I’m trying to get in some good at-bats and feel comfortable again at the plate. It’s good being around the guys in this clubhouse. They’ve been fun to be around and they play well as a team.’’
That allowed the River Bandits to rebound from Wednesday’s 4-3 walk-off loss at Peoria in the series opener.
“You really see the true character of a team when their backs are against the wall and our guys showed me something tonight,’’ Quad-Cities manager Russ Steinhorn said. “We were in a win or go home scenario, we still are, and the guys showed up ready to leave it all on the field. We’ll need that again.’’
What Javier and Montano started on the mound carried over to an offense which Marcos Almonte and Moran led with three hits apiece and was complemented by a defense which committed its lone error in the ninth.
“It was a good overall team effort, the way we’ve played the game all season,’’ Steinhorn said.
He liked the way Gattis worked with Javier and Montano in a well-paced outing, communicating with the pitchers in the dugout.
“Having never thrown to each other before, they executed the plan, worked together well,’’ Steinhorn said. “That’s big for those guys, part of development.’’
Quad-Cities took control with a two-run fifth inning and then extended the lead to 4-1 when Chuckie Robinson blasted a leadoff homer in the bottom of the sixth inning.
His shot, which traveled an estimated 385 feet, came after the River Bandits got to Chiefs starter Austin Warner for three hits in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Ray Henderson opened the inning with a single to left, then broke a 1-1 tie by scoring from first when Almonte drove the second of his three hits into the corner in left.
Almonte reached third on a throwing error following his double and scored on a Chas McCormick sacrifice fly to right which gave the River Bandits a three-run advantage that the Chiefs couldn’t catch.
“Marcos has been good against lefties all year and he stepped in delivered,’’ Steinhorn said.
Quad-Cities and Peoria traded early runs, with the River Bandits taking a 1-0 lead in the third after Kristian Trompiz and Almonte opened the inning by driving balls into center. Following a fielder’s choice by McCormick, Moran scored Trompiz with a sharp infield single to first.
Peoria needed one pitch to tie the game in the top of the fourth.
Stefan Trosclair deposited a first-pitch fastball from Javier over the fence in left to even the score at 1-1. Javier then retired the final nine batters he faced.