LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Didi Gregorius ignited the rally and finished the game with a bang.
Gregorius jump-started a four-run rally in the eighth inning with a single and launched a walk-off home run in the ninth to lead the Bats to a 5-4 win over the Buffalo Bisons on Wednesday at Louisville Slugger Field.
After the Bisons (51-54) scored three in the first inning off Louisville starter Brett Tomko, the Bats (40-66) got a stellar performance from their bullpen and then put up a four-run rally in the eighth to tie it.
With out in the ninth, Gregorius stepped to the plate against Buffalo reliever Pedro Beato. On an 0-2 count, the Bats shortstop sent a towering home run to right center for Louisville's third walk-off homer of the season. It was Gregorius' fourth home run as a member of the Bats and his second in as many games.
Collin McHugh shut out the Bats for 6 2/3 innings and appeared in line for his second win of the season. However, Louisville had much more success against Fernando Cabrera.
Down 4-0 with Cabrera on the mound, the Bats rallied in the eighth. Gregorius and Henry Rodriguez hit back-to-back singles before Mike Costanzo walked to load the bases.
Dioner Navarro hit an RBI single to left field to send Gregorius in for the Bats' first run and keep the bases loaded. Felix Perez followed with a line drive to the same place, scoring Rodriguez and lessening the Bisons' lead to 4-2. With two outs, Cody Puckett attacked left field again, this time scoring Costanzo and Navarro to even the score and set up Gregorius' memorable blast in the ninth.
Tomko struggled in his return from the disabled list. Pitching for the first time since May 30, he allowed three runs in the first inning and left after three trailing 3-0.
For the second night in a row, the Bats' bullpen was sensational. Kanekoa Texeira, Travis Webb, Carlos Fisher and J.J. Hoover combined to allow a single run in six innings.
In the ninth inning, Hoover (4-0) pitched himself into a bases-loaded situation, allowing two walks and a hit. With two outs and a full count, Hoover was able to strike out Adam Loewen to keep the go-ahead run from scoring and ultimately earn the win.
Gregorius was 3-for-5 with two runs and extended his hitting streak to five games while tallying his sixth multi-hit game in his 14 games with the Bats. Costanzo and Perez added two hits apiece.
For the first time in five games, the Bats trailed first as the Bisons put up three runs in the first. With two outs, Tomko gave up a walk to Mike Baxter, a double down the left field line to Zach Lutz and another walk to Loewen to load the bases. Josh Satin stepped up and smashed a line drive to right center field to score all three runners and give the Bisons a 3-0 lead.
Kanekoa Texiera pitched a scoreless fourth inning, but couldn't stop the Bisons from putting up another run in the fifth. Josh Rodriguez doubled and Lutz plated him with an RBI single for a 4-0 lead.
Webb pitched 2.2 innings, striking out five along the way. Fisher helped get the Bats out of a jam in the eighth by recording the final out.
The same teams will meet again at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Louisville Slugger Field in the third game of the four-game series. Todd Redmond (7-6, 3.36 ERA) is expected to start on the mound for Louisville, while Buffalo's starter is to be announced. It will be Redmond's first start since shutting out Pawtucket for seven innings on July 21.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.