INDIANAPOLIS -- After being no-hit for the first seven innings of the contest by starter Mike Montgomery, the Indianapolis Indians (42-21) put together a rally for the ages, plating six runs off the Bulls bullpen in the bottom of the eighth to rally past Durham (39-23) 6-5 in front of a season-high 13,881 on Friday night at Victory Field.
The Durham Bulls looked well on their way to handing the Indianapolis Indians their first series loss at home this season as starter LHP Mike Montgomery spun seven no-hit innings and 1B Leslie Anderson and DH Shelley Duncan each smashed home runs to give the Bulls a 4-0 lead heading into the eighth.
However, Montgomery (7.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 SO) gave up a leadoff free pass to 3B Jared Goedert in the top of the eighth and, after tossing 99 pitches on the night, was removed from the game for reliever Juan Sandoval. Up to the plate stepped Tribe C Tony Sanchez, who quickly ended the no-hit and shutout bid by ripping a double to deep center field to plate Goedert and bring the Tribe within 4-1.
The comeback continued as RF Brett Carroll followed with a base hit up the middle to score Sanchez and cut the Bulls lead to 4-2. Carroll then moved up to second on the throw before advancing to third when RF Jerry Sands and LF Darren Ford followed with back-to-back groundouts.
With two-outs, the Indians improbable rally continued as SS John McDonald was plunkd by a pitch and CF Alex Presley drew a base-on-balls to load the bases. After two more Bulls pitching changes, RHP Kirby Yates uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Carroll to come around and score the Tribe's third run and move both McDonald and Presley into scoring position.
Bulls SS Mike Fontenot then committed the key play of the game as he bobbled a routine grounder off the bat of 2B Josh Harrison to allow both McDonald and Presley to cross the plate and give the Tribe a 5-4 lead. Harrison then swiped his 16th base of the season to set the stage for 1B Matt Hague, who roped an RBI base knock to right to give the Indians an important insurance run and 6-4 lead.
Harrison's run proved to be the difference as Durham mounted a comeback of their own in the top half of the ninth, plating a single score on a double from C Juan Apodaca and Tribe error to cut the lead to 6-5. However, Indians reliever Duke Welker (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER) induced a line out and groundout to earn his first save by closing out the improbable Tribe victory.
Tribe reliever Zack Thornton (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 SO) tossed two innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory and improve to 2-0 in three appearances with Indianapolis this season. In his first start in an Indians uniform, RHP Graham Godfrey (6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO) did not figure in the final decision after allowing four runs over six innings of work.
After earning the series split, the Indians now welcome Norfolk in for a four-game series starting tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. RHP Charlie Morton (0-1, 4.26) is expected to make a rehab start for Indianapolis, while the Tides have yet to name a starter.
The contest will be televised on HTSN, Hometown Sports and News, available via cable or over-the-air on digital channel 6.2. The game will also be carried on WNDE 1260 AM, WNDE.com and via iheartradio, a mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones with Howard Kellman and Will Flemming on the call. The pre-game show begins at 6:45 p.m.
Post-game quotes -- RF Brett Carroll
(on going into the eighth without a hit as a team, and then putting up six runs to take the lead)
"Anytime you can steal a win with a guy throwing a good game on their side, especially in front of a great crowd tonight, it makes it a fun night."
(on facing hard-throwing relievers after Montgomery exited and still being able to get run-scoring hits)
"In that situation I'm just trying to do my job and hit the ball up the middle or the other way and it got in on me a little bit too much but thankfully [my bat] died a hero. They do have a good bullpen; they're a good team all around and it's been a good test for us. To pull out a win and tie the series is good stuff."
(on scoring the third run of the eighth inning on a wild pitch)
"Anytime you're at third you're just trying to be ready. With a runner on third in a close game [the pitcher] doesn't want to throw a pitch in the dirt but pitchers are human, they make mistakes, and you've got to be ready to take advantage of it."