The St. Paul Saints will be glad to leave Iowa.

The Sioux City Explorers routed the North Division champions 12-1 on Thursday night for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five American Association semifinal series. Game 3 is 7 p.m. Saturday at CHS Field in St. Paul.

The Saints lost 3-2 Wednesday in a competitive series opener. Game 2 was nolo contendere before 1,444.

Patrick Johnson, the league’s pitcher of the year, held the Saints to one hit — Angelo Songco’s homer in the second inning — over 7⅔ innings. Johnson, 15-1 with a 2.08 ERA during the regular season, struck out eight and walked four. Michael Lang led Sioux City’s 16-hit attack, going 4-for-5 with a triple and three RBI.

Saints 13-game winner Jeff Shields gave up eight runs, seven hits and four walks in 2⅔ innings.


DiFazio honored

Catcher Vinny DiFazio of the Saints was named the American Association’s Player of the Year, as voted on by the league’s coaches and general managers or media. DiFazio hit .361 with 17 homers and 82 RBI.

He led the league in batting average, on-base percentage (.467) and slugging percentage (.592).