With two of the best pitchers in the league facing each other, the RailCats had to hope Fargo-Moorhead would flinch first.
The RedHawks didn't.
After Alain Quijano left in the eighth inning with two runners on, having pitched 7 1/3 scoreless, Fargo-Moorhead took advantage and scored all of its runs in a 2-0 RedHawks win.
"Going in, you know that runs are going to be hard to come by," RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. "Both guys were good, and I expected Alain to be as good as he was, and he didn't disappoint."
The victory gives Fargo-Moorhead a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five American Association playoff series.
In the eighth, Jeremiah Piepkorn hit a single off of reliever Kyle Lindquist, and Tim Alberts' sac fly gave the RedHawks their runs, both charged to Quijano.
The lefty Quijano finished with five strikeouts, including four over five batters in the fourth and fifth innings.
Facing American Association pitcher of the year Taylor Stanton, the RailCats had scoring chances when they put runners on the corners with one out in the seventh inning. Brian Kolb was walked, and Zac Mitchell knocked a single. Danny Pulfer came within a foul pole of a home run that would have given the RailCats a three-run lead.
"There were a couple of close calls, Danny Pulfer just missing the three-run homer the inning before, but we didn't push that run across, and it wasn't for lack of trying," Tagert said. "It's one of those games and the kind that we win a lot of times, but against a club like Fargo, they don't make a mistake defensively. They're not going to give you anything, and their pitchers are not going to walk a guy at an inopportune time."
Stanton was pulled with two out and two on, and reliever Joe Harris coaxed Adam Klein into a groundout, eventually earning the win.
Drew Martinez hit a two-out single in the ninth and took second on a wild pitch. He was left there as the RailCats stranded eight.
Before the game, the RailCats activated veteran reliever Marco Gonzalez from the inactive list, moving Matt Jernstad to the disabled list and releasing pitcher Tim Verthein.
"If you can take any good news from the loss, it takes three to win, and as much as I hate cliches, we only have to win one on the road and go home," Tagert said.