Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Justin De Fratus worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth as Triple-A Lehigh Valley hung on to take Game 1 of the Governors' Cup Finals in a 5-2 win over Columbus.
"It's big any time you can beat a team like that," Moss said. "To take at least one in their home stadium, that's definitely big for momentum for us. It's a five-game series and one win is great, but it doesn't win everything."
A veteran of 244 Major League games, Moss had a big semifinals series -- hitting .417 with two homers and four RBIs in the IronPigs' three-game sweep of his former team, Pawtucket. He also has a history of success against the Clippers with three homers and 10 RBIs in eight regular season games and five longballs in 11 outings at Huntington Park.
Those numbers got even better in the first as Lehigh Valley raced out to a quick lead when Scott Podsednik and Kevin Frandsen hit consecutive one-out singles and Moss followed with his third postseason homer to center.
"We're facing a good team, a good pitcher [Zach McAllister] who has good stuff, so I was looking for something up out over the plate," Moss said. "He left a change-up up, I hit it good to center. He threw a pitch where I was looking, and I didn't miss it."
A well-rested Scott Mathieson (1-0) made his first start since Sept. 4 and held the Clippers to a pair of runs on five hits and two walks, throwing 89 pitches over five innings.
"He did a great job," Moss said. "He competes and battles. He just got moved back to a starter this season, and he's been doing a great job. He gives it everything he has. He's got really good numbers. He just goes out and pitches."
Erik Kratz led off the second with a double and came home on Podsednik's fielder's choice grounder to short. Cody Overbeck, promoted midseason to Lehigh Valley, added a leadoff homer in the ninth. It was his first hit of the playoffs.
Columbus' lone offense came in the fifth when Tim Fedroff hit an RBI single and Argenis Reyes scored on a grounder by Juan Diaz.
McAllister (1-1) was charged with all five runs on 11 hits and a walk over eight innings. He struck out six on 100 pitches, departing after facing two batters in the ninth.
Former first-round pick Phillippe Aumont allowed a walk and fanned one in the eighth. De Fratus came on for the ninth and got into trouble when he issued consecutive one-out walks and gave up a single to left to Juan Diaz. Jared Goedert ran the count full with two outs before whiffing to end the game.
"They're a team that put together some really good at-bats against De Fratus," Moss said. "He was a little up with the fastball, missing a little, but he was able to regroup. Goedert ... is a really good fastball hitter, and (De Fratus) got behind, made two pitches, two really good sliders.
"If you walk him there, it's a bad situation. He kept him out in front, and you gotta tip your cap to the pitcher when they do that. He's throwing 95-96 [mph] and he throws a slider. He definitely did a great job not giving in."
The IronPigs' Nate Bump and the Clippers' Mitch Talbot will meet up in Game 2 on Wednesday in Columbus.