Louisville, KY - The Louisville Bats failed to rally in the bottom of the ninth as they were defeated by the Durham Bulls tonight by the score of 4-3. The loss puts the Bats on the brink of elimination, as they now trail two games to one in the best-of-five first round playoff series. The Bats surrendered all four runs in the top of the fourth inning this evening. The game was played at Louisville Slugger Field in front of a lively playoff crowd of 6,345.
Bulls closer Winston Abreu notched all three outs in the bottom of the ninth via the strike out. He disposed of Chris Heisey and Jay Bruce on six straight strikes. Todd Frazier then hit an infield single up the middle, cut off by the shortstop. Juan Francisco came up and hit a nubber down the first base line, and he eluded the swiping tag of Bulls first basemen, Joe Dillon, putting runners on first and second with two out. It was the second time of the night which Frazier and Francisco hit back-to-back infield singles. Chris Valaika then went down swinging to end the game. The save was Abreu's first of the postseason.
The Bats did get on the board first tonight. Catcher Chris Denove led off the bottom of the third inning with a 392-foot blast to the left field seats. It was his second home run of this postseason, as he hit one in the game one loss. Following Denove, Heisey and Bruce reached on consecutive one-out singles, but the Bats could not capitalize and add to the lead.
The top of the fourth spelled trouble for the Bats and starting pitcher Sam LeCure. LeCure allowed the first five hitters to reach base. He gave up a lead off single to Joe Dillon, followed by back-to-back walks, and then back-to-back singles, plating two runs, giving the Bulls a 2-1 lead. With the bases loaded, LeCure coaxed Michel Hernandez to ground into a double play, but Sean Rodriguez came across the plate. Henry Mateo then singled to right, scoring Justin Ruggiano, extending the Bulls lead to 4-1.
LeCure (0-1, 6.00) was able to bounce back after the rough fourth by pitching a one-two-three fifth, followed by a scoreless sixth inning. He suffered the loss going six innings, giving up six hits, four runs, three walks, while striking out two.
The Bats were able to edge closer in the bottom of the sixth on a line drive home run by Cincinnati Reds top prospect, Yonder Alonso, making it a 4-2 game. It was Alonso's first Triple-A home run in his third Triple-A game.
Bulls starter Jason Cromer's night ended after the sixth. Cromer (1-0, 3.00) picked up the win, allowing six hits, two runs, two walks, and striking out three.
The bottom of the seventh proved to be an interesting one for the Bats. The first two batters reached base as Denove walked, followed by a single by Luis Bolivar. Relief pitcher Joe Bateman then struck out Heisey and Bruce in succession, making it two on with two out. Todd Frazier hit a line drive off Bateman's glove for an infield single, loading the bases for Juan Francisco. Francisco grounded one off Bateman's glove, scoring Denove, making it a 4-3 game in favor of the Bulls. Valaika stepped up with the bases loaded and grounded to third baseman, Rodriguez, who stepped on the bag to end the inning.
The Bats threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. Alonso singled to lead off, and was subsequently sacrificed to second on a bunt by Lew Ford. He moved up to third on a ground out, but was stranded at third when Bolivar grounded to first to end the inning.
The Bats hope to stay alive tomorrow night as they face elimination in game four of the series against the Bulls. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. LHP Tom Cochran (1-0, 3.07 on the season) will take the ball for the Bats. The starting pitcher for the Bulls will be RHP Rayner Oliveros (1-0, 3.60).