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MUNOZ’ ARM, MCINTOSH’S BAT POWER BUZZ

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Father's Day is Sunday, but Buzz pitcher Oscar Munoz wanted to give his late dad an early present.

"My father passed away two years ago this September, and with Father's Day coming up I dedicated this game to him," Munoz said of Wednesday's start against the Vancouver Canadians.Dad must have been proud. Munoz threw arguably his best game of the year and, with major help from the bat of Tim McIntosh, led Salt Lake to a 6-5 win over Vancouver. The victory pulls Salt Lake to within 11/2 games of the PCL Northern Division-leading Canadians with five games remaining in the first half.

Munoz pitched 62/3 innings, giving up six hits and two runs while earning the victory to even his season record at 5-5.

"I've struggled my last couple of outings, so it was nice to pitch better tonight," Munoz said. "I got a lot of help from the defense. Brian Raabe at third base is like having a goaltender out there."

Salt Lake is 35-32 on the year while the Canadians are 35-30. The Buzz will attempt to pull within a half game tonight at Franklin Quest Field when the two teams meet in the series finale (7 p.m. first pitch). Salt Lake will then host Tucson in the final four games of the first half, while Vancouver will be on the road against Calgary. The first-half winner earns an automatic playoff berth, while all 10 PCL teams will start over with 0-0 records for the second half beginning Tuesday.

McIntosh, the second-leading hitter in the PCL with a .372 batting average, was the offensive star for Salt Lake. In the third inning the versatile McIntosh, who's played first base, catcher and left field in the past week, hit a three-run homer to left off Vancouver reliever Mike James to give Salt Lake a 4-1 lead. McIntosh also drove himself in in the fifth with a monster solo home run, again off James. They were his 12th and 13th homers of the year.

"This is what it's all about. You can't help but get excited about (the pennant race)," McIntosh said. "I love a party, so if we can have a party here in a couple of days, I'm all for it."

A loss Wednesday would have just about killed any hope of a first-half pennant for the Buzz. Salt Lake led 5-2 after seven innings. The Canadians scored a pair in the top of the eighth off reliever Scott Watkins, but Salt Lake's Marty Cordova hit an double that scored Rich Becker in the botton half of the inning to give Salt Lake a 6-4 advantage.

Buzz closer Kevin Campbell was victimized by a bad-hop, run-scoring single by Eduardo Perez with two outs in the ninth.

"That's the first time I've seen a ball bounce like that at this park," said Buzz manager Scott Ullger of Perez' hit that looked like it would be a routine ground out to second, but instead bounded over Jeff Carter's head. "That was a wicked hop. Manute Bol couldn't have gotten it, or Mark Eaton."

But "Soup," as Campbell is called by teammates and coaches, shook off Perez' hit to force the next batter, Steve Hosey, into a ground ball to the shortstop that was relayed to second for the force.

Salt Lake will start lefty Shawn Bryant (4-3, 6.34 ERA) tonight against Vancouver RHP Shad Williams (0-1, 7.94).

BUZZ BRIEFS - While it's looking more and more like the major league players will strike, that won't affect the Buzz or other minor league teams as the games will continue as scheduled . . . Perez, who has spent most of this year with the parent California Angels, hit his first major-league home run in his first game in the bigs last July 27 against Oakland. Ironically, the pitcher for the A's at the time was the Buzz's Campbell . . . The Buzz average of 9,614 fans per game is just under double that of Albuquerque (4,877 average), the second best team in attendance in the PCL.