LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Edinson Volquez and the Bats offense hung tough, but a ninth inning wild pitch gave Lehigh Valley the winning run as they walked away with a 5-4 win. Bats reliever Nick Christiani threw an intentional walk attempt to the backstop to give Lehigh Valley their fifth run of the night.
Volquez looked to have his best stuff of the season. The right-hander hit 98 mph several times on the radar gun and racked up eight strikeouts in his first four shutout innings. But a rough start to the fifth inning led to his undoing.
Fresh off the bench, David Cook replaced the rehabbing Chris Heisey in left field in the fifth. The ball found him right away as Lehigh Valley's starter Ryan Edell doubled just over Cook's outstretched glove to lead off the inning. That was just the beginning.
Rich Thompson then attempted to sacrifice Edell to third base. The ball was fielded by Mesoraco in front of home, bobbled, and then thrown in the dirt and past Juan Francisco at third base to bring home the first run as Thompson moved to second. Lehigh Valley led 1-0. Three consecutive hits to follow ran the score to 3-0. After a Josh Barfield sacrifice fly to give the IronPigs their fourth run and an Erik Kratz pop out, the inning came to a conclusion with Volquez and the Bats trailing 4-0.
Louisville's bats finally broke through in the bottom of the frame. Danny Dorn reached after he was hit by a pitch after Lehigh Valley's Kevin Frandsen dropped a pop up near the Louisville dugout. After advancing to second on a Volquez sacrifice bunt, Dorn scored in David Cook's first at-bat, an RBI double to left field, and slowly, the Bats were on the comeback trail, behind 4-4.
Volquez came back out for the sixth inning and was back to his old tricks. He retired Freddy Galvis on a ground ball then recorded his tenth and eleventh strikeouts, a season high this season and his most since September 3, 2008 with Cincinnati. It would be his last inning of his quality start in which he allowed four runs, but only two that were earned while walking two and seven hits.
The Bats right-hander left the game on the losing side of the decision, but the Bats offense would rescue him. Louisville rallied for two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Francisco singled to leadoff and Hermida put runners in scoring position with a double. Devin Mesoraco nearly gave the Bats the lead as he gave one a ride to deep left-center field, but Domonic Brown tracked it down up against the wall to bring in the Bats' second run. Danny Dorn then provided a huge two-out single to pull the Bats to within one at 4-3.
The Bats were at it again in the seventh as Michael Griffin pinch-hit for Jared Burton who held the IronPigs scoreless in his inning of work. Griffin led things off with a single and advanced on a Cook sacrifice bunt. After Chris Valaika singled Griffin to third, he came home to tie it at 4-4 on a Francisco sacrifice fly that just missed leaving the yard in centerfield.
Nick Christiani came in to work a perfect eighth inning and came back on for his second inning of work in the ninth. His ninth inning was far from perfect. The first two IronPigs hitter reached. Thompson then took third base without a throw to put runners at first and third. Brown then stepped up, working on a perfect 4-4 night, and almost got his fifth hit, but Christiani kicked it directly to the second baseman Jose Castro who threw on to first for the first out of the inning.
With runners at second and third, Christiani was forced to intentionally walk Brandon Moss to set up a bases loaded force-out situation. With a 2-0 count, Christiani uncorked ball three to the backstop and Thompson came home to take the 5-4 lead.
Francisco had one last chance to put the Bats on top in the bottom of the inning representing the winning run, but he struck out with Valaika on first to end the game the IronPigs walked away with a 5-4 victory in the series finale. With the loss, Louisville falls back to 6.0 games out of the Wild Card race and settles for a 2-2 series split with Lehigh Valley. The Bats will travel to Columbus Sunday evening to start a four-game series with Columbus at 5:05. LHP Travis Wood (2-2, 4.17) gets the nod against Columbus's RHP Zach McAllister (10-3, 3.37).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.