OGDEN -- It's not exactly a mystery what an early lead, backed by good defense and even better pitching, can do for a baseball team.
In the case of the Ogden Raptors on Thursday evening, it earned them a 4-1 win over the Idaho Falls Chukars at Lindquist Field.
It was the second straight crisply played game for the Raptors (2-3, 23-20), who have rebounded to win two in a row after a three-game losing streak that was caused, in large part, by generally sloppy play.
"Just look at the way the defense has played the last couple games," said Raptors manager Damon Berryhill. "We still made an error tonight, but for the most part we're making the plays we should be making. In games past, we've been kicking two or three plays we should have made, putting a strain on our pitching staff."
Apart from the defense, which was spotless -- except for a ninth-inning error by shortstop Corey Seager -- the Raptors got a good effort from their starting pitcher for the third straight game.
Following a trend set by Ross Stripling and Carlos Frias, Jake Hermsen gave the Raptors five scoreless innings, while allowing four hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Hermsen, who lowered his ERA to 3.46 with the outing, at one point set down nine Chukars (3-2, 20-23) in a row and allowed just one runner to reach second base.
"It all starts with the starter," Berryhill said. "If he goes out and sets a good tempo and good pace to the ballgame and is consistently in the strike zone, it allows us to kind of settle in."
The Raptors pounced on Chukars starter Spencer Patton with a three-run first inning. Delvis Morales and Eric Smith started the inning with singles, followed by a walk to Jeremy Rathjen. All three came around to score with the help of two throwing errors from Chukars catcher Travis Lane and a wild pitch from Patton.
Jose Capellan led off the fourth for the Raptors with a double and scored on Bladimir Franco's single. The Raptors recorded just two hits in their final four chances, but the early lead was enough support for the pitching staff.
Pitching in just his third game with the Raptors, Jharel Cotton threw three effective innings in relief of Hermsen, retiring the first seven batters he faced before giving up a run in the eighth. Owen Jones worked a scoreless ninth for the save.
Ogden came into the game averaging over two errors per game -- its 95 errors is the most in the Pioneer League -- but the Raptors have committed only one in each of their last two games. Both of those games have resulted in wins, and according to Seager, that's not a coincidence.
"You never want to give them base runners, because usually those errors turn into runs, just like walks," Seager said.
Morales, Eric and Capellan each had two hits for the Raptors in the win.
The victory snared a series win for Ogden over Idaho Falls, as well as a 4-3 homestand. The Raptors now embark on a six-game road trip, beginning tonight against the Grand Junction Rockies.