The Alexandria Dukes are first in fielding, third in pitching and third in batting average in the Carolina League, yet they are in the cellar of the Northern Division. The question is why.

The answer can be found by looking at the Dukes' six-game home stand, including last night's 6-5 defeat by the Penninsula Pilots, before 1,037 at Four Mile Run Park. The Dukes stranded 12 men, nine in scoring position.

During the home stand, Alexandria lost five games, three by one run, and stranded 43 runners.

Last night, Peninsula scored five runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-3 lead. As has been the case the past few weeks, the Dukes, battled back but couldn't get the big hit. In the eighth, Benny de la Rosa and Rafael Belliard walked. They advanced when Ron Wotus grounded out but Conner McGehee struck out.

The ninth proved just as frustrating, especially after John Schaive's ledoff double. Ken Ford struck out and Geronimo Blanco grounded out, advancing Schaive to third. Jim Felt walked, but de la Rosa grounded into a force play to end the game.

Five consecutive hits produced the Pilots' fifth-inning rally.A two-run double by Jerry Willard and a Willie Darkis solo home run, his second in as many games, were the key hits. Rich Leggatt replaced loser Bob Adkins(3-7) after the home run and pitched 4 2/3 inings of one-hit relief, striking out six.

Alexandria scored in the first when Wotus singled and eventually came home on Ford's groundout.