COLUMBUS, Oh. - Entering play Wednesday afternoon, the Louisville Bats had the lowest team ERA in the International League (2.91). Unfortunately for them, they also had the lowest team batting average in the IL (.191). Louisville broke out of its team hitting slump to the tune of a season-high 15 hits at soggy Huntington Park as they downed the Columbus Clippers, 8-3.
The victory helped the Bats finish their road trip with a 3-3 record and return from their tour of Ohio with a 7-6 overall mark. It was their first win against the Clippers at Huntington Park since July 18, 2012, ending a streak of five straight losses. With the loss, Columbus fell into a second-place tie with Louisville in the IL West, also at 7-6.
Felix Perez led the way, going 3-for-4, with a massive three-run home run off Clippers starter Joe Martinez in the top of the second to give the Bats a 3-0 lead. The home run was both Perez' second home run and second RBI of the season, and his first of each since his drive on Opening Night plunked the right-field foul pole in the bottom of the ninth to give Louisville a dramatic 4-3 win over Toledo.
Perez would tack on an RBI single in the top of the third to finish with four RBI on the day. It was the first time in 13 games this season a Bats hitter recorded more than two RBI. Wednesday also marked Perez' first multi-hit game of the season. He had 28 multi-hit games in 2012, including eight three-hit games. Jason Donald and Mike Hessman also recorded RBIs earlier in the frame with a double and sacrifice fly, respectively. The Bats led 6-0 after the top of the third and would not look back.
Billy Hamilton went 1-for-5 with a run and stole his league-leading eighth base of the year. After singling to left, he swiped second base off Martinez on the first pitch of Donald's at-bat in the third and scored on his double four pitches later.
Greg Reynolds (2-0, 3.38) went five innings to earn his second win of the season and his second in as many starts. He allowed three earned runs on six hits while striking out three. All three runs came in the bottom of the fifth, the big blow being a two-run double by the Clippers' Roberto Perez.
Josh Fellhauer's solo home run in the top of the seventh off lefty Scott Barnes meant that every Bats starting position player finished with at least one hit. It was Fellhauer's first home run of the season, and first of his career at the Triple-A level.
Donald, Henry Rodriguez, Denis Phipps and Konrad Schmidt all recorded multi-hit games for Louisville. Schmidt's RBI single in the top of the ninth to score Phipps gave the Bats their eighth and final tally of the day. As a team, the Bats went 15-for-36, raising their team average 20 percentage points from .191 to .211.
The Bats' bullpen was nearly spotless Wednesday in Columbus. Jose Arredondo, Mark Prior and Kevin Whelan shut down the Clips starting from the sixth inning on. Arredondo went two perfect frames, striking out five of the six batters he faced. A single by Columbus' Matt Carson off Whelan in the bottom of the ninth accounted for the bullpen's only baserunner. To boot, Bats pitchers did not walk any opposing hitters for the first time this year.
Martinez (0-2, 4.80) suffered his second loss for the Clippers and allowed six earned runs on ten hits before being removed in the top of the fourth inning.
The Bats return to Louisville Slugger Field tomorrow for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch against the Indianapolis Indians. It will be the first of 22 meetings between the IL West foes in 2013. RHP Pedro Villarreal (0-1, 2.08) takes the hill for the Bats and will be opposed by LHP Kris Johnson (1-1, 1.64) for the Tribe. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for a $1 Budweiser Beer Happy Hour and live music by Jeremy Sharfe on the Overlook Deck, both until 7 p.m.