The Sioux Falls Pheasants' early lead wasn't enough in a 3-2 loss to the Sioux City Explorers on Sunday night at Lewis and Clark Park.
The two I-29 rivals split a four-game series, and Sioux Falls (27-27) finished a 12-game road trip with just three victories while away from Sioux Falls Stadium.
The Pheasants may have lost more than the game when leadoff man Jonny Kaplan exited with a high ankle sprain suffered while legging out a bunt attempt in the eighth inning. It was the third injury to a regular Pheasants position player on the road trip. Mark Shorey's season ended when he broke a hand bone on July 3 in Kansas City, and shortstop Cory Morales has not played since July 6 due to a high ankle sprain.
Kaplan entered the ballgame with a .344 batting average, highest on the team and seventh best in the league.
Cristian Guerrero gave the Pheasants a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a two-out, RBI single, and Cesar Nicolas belted a leadoff home run, his sixth of the year, in the fourth for a 2-0 advantage.
But in the bottom of the fifth with two outs and two on, Sioux City slugger Kris Sanchez sent Pete Gehle's 3-1 pitch over the left-center field fence for the go-ahead home run.
The home run was the only extra-base hit Gehle (4-5) allowed in the loss. He yielded nine hits and three runs in six innings while walking two and striking out one.
Explorers starter Nick Schumacher (5-3) struck out a season-high nine batters to beat the Pheasants. He allowed just five hits in seven-plus innings and walked only one.
Chuck Lukanen and Eddie De La Cruz combined to douse a potential Pheasants rally in the eighth, and Chris Bodishbaugh struck out the side in a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the second night in a row to earn his 11th save.
Dusty Gober was perfect in relief of Gehle in the seventh and eighth innings.
Nicolas led the Pheasants' offense with a 3-for-4 night.