LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Three hits and two runs were all the Louisville Bats needed to overcome the Durham Bulls on Friday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. A seventh inning blast by Bats outfielder Todd Frazier snapped Louisville's slump to push the Bats to a 2-1 win. The win evens the series at 2-1 in favor of the Bats in the first round of the 2010 Governors' Cup playoffs.
For the second night in a row, Durham again wasted no time, as they jumped on the board in the first. Lead-off batter J.J. Furmaniak started things off with a single to left field, and Elliot Johnson followed up with a single that advanced Furmaniak to third. With Justin Ruggiano batting, Johnson stole second and Furmaniak made it home off a throwing error by catcher Devin Mesoraco.
Bats starting pitcher Matt Klinker and Durham starter Alex Cobb, in his first Triple-A appearance, then took over the show as both teams remained scoreless through the sixth. Cobb did not give up a hit until Mesoraco snuck in a single in the sixth. A throwing error by Cobb advanced Mesoraco to second, but Cobb was able to successfully retire the next three Bats batters to maintain the Bulls' lead.
With one out in the top of the seventh, designated hitter Wladimir Balentien singled on a line drive to right for Louisville's second hit of the night. Frazier came up next and blasted a line drive homer to center to put the Bats ahead of the Bulls, 2-1.
Louisville shortstop Zack Cozart was ejected at the top of the eighth as he argued strikes with home plate umpire Fran Burke. Cozart, who was named the Bats MVP for 2010, was called out on strikes to end the eighth.
Durham reliever R. J. Swindle retired the Bats in order in the ninth, as the Bulls fought for one more chance to catch up with Louisville.
The Bats seemed to be headed for an easy ending as reliever Jared Burton struck out the first two Durham batters. Durham fans really started to come alive as Burton walked Furmaniak to put the tying run on base. With Johnson batting, Furmaniak stole second to bring tensions even higher. Johnson struck out with a full count to secure a Bats victory.
The Louisville bullpen recorded a stellar performance as they bolstered a hurting Bats offense. Reliever Philippe Valiquette (1-0, 0.00), who came on in the sixth, was credited with the win. Valiquette struck out the only two batters he faced.
Burton earned his first post-season save with his fabulous work in the end of the eighth and into the ninth. He gave up no hits, struck out three, and walked one. Micah Owings and Daniel Ray Herrera also made relief appearances for the Bats, giving up a hit apiece.
Klinker (0-0, 1.69) received a no-decision in his best performance since returning to Louisville from Double-A Carolina last month. He gave up one run on six hits, walked three, and struck out two. Since his return, Klinker had recorded a disappointing 0-3 record with a 7.72 ERA.
Cobb (0-1, 2.70) was charged with the loss for Durham despite his solid performance. He went 6.2 innings in which he gave up only three hits, and struck out an impressive 10 batters. Swindle came on in relief of Cobb in the seventh and finished out the game. He gave up no hits and struck out four.
The series now sits at 2-1 in favor of the Bats. Louisville's International League West division foes the Columbus Clippers also secured a 2-1 advantage over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees on Friday night.
Louisville will fight to win game four, and put an end to the first round of playoff games, on Saturday night at Durham Athletic field. LHP Ben Jukich (7-4, 3.90), who has posted a 4-0 record with a 3.57 ERA since the all-star break, will get the ball for the Bats against RHP Paul Phillips (1-0, 1.69) for the Bulls. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Bats fans can listen to Matt Andrews' play-by-play on 1080 Talk Radio.
The series will move to a fifth game on Sunday if the Bulls win on Saturday night. The game will be held at 5:05 p.m. in Durham.