After rallying for four runs in the seventh on six straight hits to cut their deficit to one, the Bats began a decisive eighth inning with shaky defense that opened the door to six Norfolk runs in the Tides' 11-4 victory.
After Norfolk (14-17) lost six straight games in mid-April, the Tides turned things around and have now won five of six. The Bats (10-23), meanwhile, are mired in a dreadful slump, losing five in a row and nine of 10. Louisville's offense has been the main reason for the skid, scoring just nine runs over the last five games.
That struggling offense did, however, awaken in the seventh inning. It came after Joel Pineiro, whose resume includes 12 years of Major League experience, shut out the Bats over the first six innings while allowing just two hits. A 104-game winner in the big leagues, Pineiro set down nine straight Bats in two separate stretches.
With one out in the seventh, Louisville unexpectedly began pounding the previously overwhelming Pineiro. Neftali Soto and Bill Rhinehart both singled before Chris Valaika roped an RBI double to left for Louisville's first run. The Bats were just getting started, as Mike Costanzo ripped a two-run double to left center and Miguel Rojas laid down a bunt single.
Rojas ended Pineiro's evening, but the Bats continued to cut into their hole as Corky Miller greeted Willie Eyre with a hit-and-run RBI single that barely eluded Norfolk second baseman Blake Davis. Down 5-4 with runners at the corners, the Bats couldn't score any more runs as Eyre recorded a strikeout and a fly out.
Louisville's comeback was short-lived, as Norfolk responded with six runs in the eighth inning. The frame began with an error in the Bats' infield, and both singles that followed could have been handled. Jai Miller followed with an RBI double, and Xavier Avery added a two-run double to help blow the game open.
In his second start of the season, Pineiro (1-0) earned his first win after giving up four earned runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings. Three Norfolk relievers combined to keep the Bats from plating another run. On the other side, Sean Gallagher (1-3) was saddled with the loss after allowing five earned runs on five hits in five innings.
Avery got Norfolk on the board when he crushed a two-run homer to right center in the third inning. He finished with four RBIs to complement four hits by Joe Mahoney. Steve Tolleson added three hits as Norfolk totaled 13.
Every Bats starter had a hit, with Costanzo picking up two with a pair of doubles. Louisville's third baseman also had two RBIs. Soto has now hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games.
The Tides and Bats will meet at 11:05 a.m. on Wednesday at Louisville Slugger Field. Norfolk's Steve Johnson (1-1, 2.38 ERA) is set to oppose Louisville's Pedro Villarreal (1-2, 3.57) on the mound.