NORTH LITTLE ROCK - Even a trip to central Arkansas couldn't turn around the Razorbacks' fortunes.
Coming in with a perfect 5-0 record at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas gave up a run on a double steal in the eighth and lost to Memphis 5-4 Tuesday night.
After the Razorbacks tied the game in the seventh, the Tigers got runners on the corners with two outs. Jacob Elliott stole second and when Arkansas pitcher Lance Phillips didn't catch Alex Gosser's throw back, Brandon Montgomery was able to score from third.
"We had a play on there and it wasn't Gosser's fault," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I can tell you that. (Phillips) was supposed to catch that ball."
That proved to be enough, as Memphis reliever Craig Caufield - who gave up a game-tying two-run home run to Andrew Benintendi - settled in and retired all six Razorbacks in the eighth and ninth innings.
It was an uphill battle all game for Arkansas.
Starting pitcher and Little Rock-native Jackson Lowery let the first four batters in the third reach base and all four eventually scored, thanks to doubles by Kane Barrow and Chris Carrier.
However, the Razorbacks' bullpen, which has been unreliable this year, shut down the Tigers after that.
Josh Alberius, another Little Rock native, tossed four scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and striking out three batters. He needed just 46 pitches to get through his outing.
"He can locate his fastball, that's one thing he can do," Van Horn said. "He can press the fastball in on the right-handers and keep them off balance. Four innings, that's enough for him. Maybe next time he goes five."
While Alberius was on the mound, Arkansas cut Memphis' lead in half.
Cullen Gassaway's RBI-single in the fourth scored Bobby Wernes and broke up the shutout. Two innings later, Gassaway hit a solo home run to pull Arkansas within 4-2.
When Phillips replaced Alberius on the mound, the Razorbacks trailed until their two-out rally in the seventh. Joe Serrano - who went 2-for-3 - was hit by a pitch, setting up Benintendi's game-tying homer.
Despite making the mistake that gave Memphis the loss, Phillips pitched well, allowing two hits and one walk in three innings.
"It wasn't (the pitchers') fault tonight," Van Horn said. "We just didn't win a close game."
The loss dropped Arkansas below .500, making it the Razorbacks' worst 23-game start since 1974, when they also started 11-12.
Arkansas travels to Memphis Wednesday for a game at AutoZone Park, the home of the triple-A Memphis Redbirds. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Memphis 5, Arkansas 4
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