CLEARWATER - Laynce Nix, making a rehab start for the Philadelphia Phillies, crushed a two-run homer in the eighth inning to propel the Clearwater Threshers past the Fort Myers Miracle 4-3 Friday night.
Danny Rams' RBI single with two outs in the top of the eighth plated Joe Benson to put the Miracle up 3-2, but Miguel Munoz could not hold the lead in the bottom of the frame. Carlos Alonso reached on a bunt single and Nix blasted Munoz's 2-0 pitch over the right field wall.
The Miracle had a great opportunity to tie the game or retake the lead in the ninth. Andy Leer and Angel Morales began the inning with singles off Mike Nesseth. After a sac bunt by Daniel Santana, Levi Michael was intentionally walked to load the bases. The decision to walk Michael paid off for the Threshers when Daniel Ortiz bounced into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The loss spoiled a tremendous start by Pat Dean, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in one of his best starts of the year. Dean couldn't get out of the inning. After getting the first out, he was touched for three consecutive bloop singles that loaded the bases. Drew Hillman then plated Jim Murphy on a ground out to make it 2-1, and Harold Martinez delivered a two-out single to center that brought in Cameron Rupp to tie the game 2-2.
Munoz relieved Dean and got Edgar Duran to fly out to end the inning.
Dean pitched 6 2/3 and gave up two runs and four hits. He walked two and struck out four. He had separate streaks of retiring eight and nine batters in a row.
The Miracle and Threshers meet for the final time in 2012 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The two teams have played six consecutive one-run games.