ROCHESTER -- The Willmar Stingers keep trying to make up ground in the Northwoods League's North Division second-half race but the Alexandria Beetles won't let them.
The Stingers' Eduardo Gonzalez's three-run home run in the second inning broke open a tie game and was all three Willmar pitchers would need to set down the Rochester Honkers 6-2 at Mayo Field Wednesday night.
The Stingers' second win in a row improved their record to 15-12 in the league's second half race, but Alexandria defeated St. Cloud 5-0 Wednesday to maintain a 4-1/2-game edge over Willmar and a three-game lead over second-place Mankato, a 6-3 winner over Brainerd.
The Stingers open a three-game home stand against Mankato at 7:05 p.m. today at Bill Taunton Stadium.
Willmar and the Honkers both scored first-inning runs but the Stingers gave pitchers Thomas Taylor, Michael Shreves and Kurt Spomer more than enough run support in the third.
Chris Woolley and Jason Leblebijian reached on singles and Gonzalez hit his third homer of the season to put the Stingers up 4-1. The Honkers closed to within a run in the third, but Willmar tacked on single runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Taylor started and worked just one inning, but Shreves was solid in five relief innings, allowing an unearned run on five hits and striking out six to improve to 4-1. Spomer earned his sixth save allowing just a walk and striking out three in three innings.
Leblebijian and Sean Dwyer both had two hits and Dwyer drove in two runs. Pat Stover was 2-for-3, drove in a run and scored.