Doug Bernier's two-out, two-run double in the 11th inning was the difference as the Red Wings slipped past the Durham Bulls, 6-5, Wednesday night in a back-and-forth affair from Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
With two outs and none on in the 11th, the Wings loaded the bases off Bulls reliever C.J. Riefenhauser on a walk to Pedro Florimon, a Nate Hanson hit by pitch and a throwing error by shortstop Hak-Ju Lee on a fielder's choice hit by Eric Farris.
That all set the stage for Bernier, who came in hitting a team-best .359 with runners in scoring position. The Wings shortstop jumped on the 2-0 pitch from Riefenhauser and hit a one-hopper over the head of the Durham third baseman and down the left field line scoring Florimon and Hanson. Both runs were unearned due to the Lee error; and in fact all six of Rochester's runs Wednesday were unearned due to five Durham defensive miscues.
The Bulls, attempting their third comeback of the night, had the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the inning but Lester Oliveros struck out Jeremy Moore on a check swing to end the four-hour, three-minute marathon.
With the win, Rochester (57-48) has now won back-to-back games for the first time since July 6 and with Pawtucket's game with Lehigh Valley suspended, the Wings are now tied for the Wild Card lead with the Paw Sox.
It took a comeback of their own in the ninth inning by the Wings to send the game to extra innings. Trailing 3-2, Chris Rahl led off the ninth with a groundball to short that was thrown away by Lee allowing Rahl to reach second base. Two batters later, Florimon ripped a single to center that plated Rahl with the tying run.
The Wings would go ahead in the top of the 10th on Josmil Pinto's RBI single; however Edgar Ibarra would blow the save in the bottom half surrendering a solo home run to Wilson Betemit that tied the game at 4-4.
Before the late-inning madness, Wings starter Alex Meyer had things on cruise control in the early innings. The Twins top pitching prospect turned in his fifth straight "quality start" and it was his best one yet. The tall right-hander tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just five hits (all singles) and no walks while striking out eight.
Despite picking up only one win over this five start stretch, Meyer has posted a 1.50 ERA (5 ER/30.0 IP).
Bulls starter Nate Karns, who entered the game second in the league in strikeouts behind Meyer, was equally impressive as he worked seven innings allowing just two unearned runs on five hits and no walks while striking out nine.
Rochester scored their two unearned runs off Karns in the fifth inning when with two outs first baseman Vince Belnome committed a fielding error on a Florimon grounder. Hanson and Wilkin Ramirez took full advantage as each delivered a run-scoring single to give the Wings a 2-0 lead.
The game stayed that way until the seventh when Aaron Thompson relieved Meyer to start the inning and promptly walked the first two batters he faced. Both of those runners would come around to score on a Lee single off A.J. Achter with two outs in the inning.
Durham would push ahead in the eighth when Michael Tonkin took over for Achter with the bases loaded and no outs and walked in the go-ahead run after striking out the first two batters he faced.
The Wings will send RHP Trevor May (8-5, 2.94) to the mound on Thursday with a chance to win their second straight series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park after not winning one over their first 16 trips to Durham.
WINGS THINGS: Over the first three games of this series, Red Wings starters have struck out 26 while walking none…The Wings won their first game this season when trailing after 8 innings (1-39). In fact, the Wings were the last team in the IL this season to win a game when trailing after 8…Rochester improved to 2-5 in extra-inning games this season winning their first since April 27 vs. CHA…The Wings are now 3-4 on their 8-game road trip.