INDIANAPOLIS -- Third baseman Neil Walker's two-run home run in the sixth inning lifted the Indianapolis Indians over their division rivals the Louisville Bats 4-2 Thursday night at Victory Field.
With their third win of the season the Tribe improve to 3-5, while the Bats fall to the same record.
Walker's long ball over the right field fence in the sixth ended a 1-for-14 slump that he carried into Thursday night's contest. The shot was his second home run of the season and brought home CF Andrew McCutchen, who reached two batters earlier on a single and later reached second with his third steal of the season..
The Bats started the contest with a quick score, when 3B Wes Bankston singled home 2B Adam Rosales to grab an early 1-0 lead. The Indians answered in the second with a sacrfice fly by 1B Steve Pearce, which scored RF Garrett Jones. Jones led off the inning with a double to extend his hitting streak to six games.
Louisville fired right back the next half inning with a solo shot by Rosales, his third of the season. The home run would be the last run of the game for Louisville as Indians' hurlers went on to blank the Bats for the rest of the game.
Right-hander Denny Bautista (1.0 IP, 1 SO) received his first win of the season after he pitched a perfect sixth, while fellow reliever Evan Meek (2.0 IP, 3 BB, 1 SO) picked up his first hold of the season with two shutout innings of his own.
RHP Chris Bootcheck (1.0 IP, 1 H) allowed just one hit and no runs in the ninth to earn the first Tribe save of the season. With his effort on Thursday, Bootcheck received his first International League save and his third overall in his nine-year Minor League career.
Neither starter figured into the decision as LHP Tom Gorzelanny (5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) allowed two runs on eight hits in five innings of work, while Bats starter Ramon Ramirez (6.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO) pitched 6.1 innings and gave up all four Tribe runs.
Louisville was able to create opportunities as their batters tallied nine hits and six total walks, however they struggled with runners in scoring position going 3-for-13 and left 13 runners on base.
Rosales (2-for-4, 2 R, 1 RBI) scored both runs for the Bats and turned in the only multi-hit effort for either club.
The Tribe continued to tear up the base paths as McCutchen and Jones each nabbed their third steal of the season to place the Indians atop the International League with 15 total swipes.
Indianapolis finishes out their nine-game homestand and their two-game series against the Louisville Bats on Friday at 7:15 p.m. LHP Matt Maloney is scheduled to start for Louisville, while RHP Daniel McCutchen is expected to get the nod for Indianapolis.
The contest will be carried by WXLW-950 AM and www.IndyIndians.com with Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley. The pre-game show begins at 6:55 p.m.
Post-game quotes -- 3B Neil Walker
(how are you able to have confidence in your swing after not getting a hit in a couple of games?)
"You try not to put too much pressure on yourself and try to simplify things and the less you think about things the better off you are. I was just looking for a pitch that I could put in play and I had Andrew on second base and I was able to do that."
(on Andrew (McCutchen) dancing around at second base, during his at-bat)
"I think it affects the pitcher more than the hitter. You have to make sure that you don't put your emphasis or focus on what is going on at second base and instead really lock in on what the pitcher is doing. I wanted him to be on third base instead of second base and I didn't know if he was going to try to steal or not but we where fortunate enough to get a hit."
(how do you think Gorzelanny did in his second start, even though he didn't get the win?)
"He looked good. He was able to give you outs when you really needed them. He was able to keep the game close and our relievers did a fantastic job after Tommy came out of the game. You know, hats off to our pitching staff they won this game for us."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.