After Saturday night's loss to Frederick, Prince William Manager Gary Denbo said at the very least that his club had proved to itself that it could play with the first-place Keys.

The Cannons proved it to 4,338 spectators yesterday at Prince William County Stadium as well, defeating Frederick, 8-4, and keeping alive their slim chances of winning the first half of the Northern Division of the Carolina League.

"This was an important win for us today," Denbo said. "It was almost a must-win game. To go eight games out instead of six would have made it really tough for us to get back into the hunt."

On May 9, Frederick appeared to have the Northern Division well in hand, leading the second-place Lynchburg Red Sox by eight games. Since then, however, the Keys' lead has slipped to one game over the Red Sox and six games over the third-place Cannons with 26 games to play.

Contributing in large part to the slide has been the pitchers' inability to keep the ball in the park.

Over the Keys' first 36 games they gave up 12 home runs. But Frederick has given up eight homers in its last eight games, including two in yesterday's loss.

All 10 Prince William players that got in the game had at least one hit for a total of 15. J.T. Snow had three, and both Sherman Obando and Enrique Hernandez homered.

Center fielder John Viera of the Cannons left in the fifth inning to have his left hand X-rayed. He jammed a finger sliding.