The Atlantic League South Division second-half standings got a little tighter Saturday night.
While the first-place Charleston Dirty Birds (34-19) were dropping a 7-6 decision to the Lexington Legends at Appalachian Power Park, the second-place High Point Rockers (30-22) were picking up a 6-1 win at home over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
Charleston's loss ended a three-game winning streak and, combined with High Point's win, cut the Dirty Birds' division lead to 31/2 games with eight days left in the regular season, which ends Oct. 10.
The Dirty Birds jumped out to a 6-0 lead behind extra-base power, getting a two-run home run from Jimmy Paredes -- his 16th of the season, with one in each of the last three games -- in the bottom of the first and adding four runs in the third on Alberto Callaspo's RBI double and a three-run home run by Edwin Espinal, his ninth of the season.
Charleston starter Max Povse cruised through the first three innings but Lexington struck back with three runs in the top of the fourth and two more in the fifth. Povse left the game after six innings with a 6-5 lead after allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits and three walks.
Lexington got the equalizer in the seventh on Tillman Pugh's 26th home run, coming off Charleston reliever Edwin Quirarte, then went up 7-6 in the eighth on a run-scoring wild pitch delivered by Eleardo Cabrera.
The Dirty Birds had the tying run in scoring position with no outs in the bottom of the ninth when Scott Kelly led off with a base hit and promptly stole second base. Kelly moved to third moved on Teodoro Martinez's fly to right for the first out, but Lexington reliever Austin Adams stranded Kelly 90 feet from home by retiring Callaspo on a sharp grounder to short with the infield in and getting the final out on Paredes' fly to right.
Charleston plays its final home game of the regular season against first-half South Division champion Lexington -- the team the Dirty Birds would face in a best-of-three division playoff series -- at 1:05 Sunday at APP. Charleston hits the road for its final six regular-season games, with three at York (Tuesday through Thursday) an a final weekend series at Gastonia.
High Point, meanwhile, will also close out the regular season on the road with games at Southern Maryland and Lancaster.