TULSA - The Tulsa Drillers would not take no for an answer Tuesday night at ONEOK Field. Twice, Springfield rallied to erase Tulsa leads, including once in the top of the eighth inning. But the Drillers had a response each time, finally with three runs in the bottom half of the eighth when they took a lead they would not lose in a 7-5 defeat of the Cardinals.
It was an important victory for Tulsa as first-place Arkansas lost for the second straight night. The two results moved the Drillers to within 4.5 games of the division-leading Travelers.
Early in Tuesday's win, it looked as if the Drillers would have an easy night as they took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Chris Parmelee, who homered the previous game, used a perfectly-placed bunt against the shift to get the inning started. Keibert Ruiz and Cristian Santana made it three straight singles, giving Tulsa the first run of the game. After DJ Peters' sharp grounder turned into a double play, Carlos Rincon delivered his second Double-A homer to up the Drillers lead to 3-0.
It stayed that way until Springfield plated three runs of its own in the top of the fourth. Tulsa starting pitcher Edwin Uceta, who was making his Double-A debut, hit Kramer Robertson with a pitch before Evan Mendoza singled. With runners at the corners, Randy Arozarena promptly tied the game at 3-3 with this third homer of the year.
The Drillers went in front for a second time in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and the bases empty, Santana singled and Peters drew a walk. Rincon came through again, by inches. His broken-bat liner short-hopped into the centerfielder's glove for a base hit, plating Santana.
The Cardinals again had an answer and it came in the eighth inning with a two-out rally against Shea Spitzbarth. Spitzbarth, who had allowed just 1 earned run in his last 12 appearances, ran into trouble with two outs and the bases empty by walking 3 straight batters. With the bases loaded, Robertson lined a double just inside the first-base bag that plated two and put the Cardinals up 5-4.
The Drillers delivered the final blow of the game in the bottom half of the eighth. Zach McKinstry greeted reliever Junior Fernandez with a lined base hit. Cody Thomas then grounded a single through the right side, and when the ball scooted under the glove of Cards right fielder Johan Mieses, the error allowed McKinstry to race home with the tying run. Parmelee drew a walk before Ruiz's sacrifice fly plated Thomas with the go-ahead run. Peters added an insurance run with a double off the left field wall that scored Parmelee.
Marshall Kasowski, who got the final out in the eighth inning, worked a scoreless ninth to close out the hard-earned victory and improve his record to 4-2.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*Uceta had an up-and-down outing in his Tulsa debut. The right-hander, who is ranked as the 20th-best prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system, pitched the first five innings and allowed three runs off four hits and four walks.
*Chris Nunn followed Uceta to the mound and worked two scoreless innings, but he had to escape a sixth-inning jam. The first two batters of the inning reached safely, and the Cardinals had the bases loaded with two outs. But, Nunn retired Robertson on a pop out to end the threat and keep the game tied.
*Tulsa has won all five meetings with Springfield played at ONEOK Field this season.
*Santana finished with three hits in four at-bats. It was the fifth time he has had at least three hits in a game this year.
*Rincon had two hits and three runs batted in.
*The Drillers won despite their four pitchers issuing nine walks.
UP NEXT: Springfield at Tulsa, Wednesday, June 5, 7:05 PM at ONEOK Field. LHP Austin Warner (2-4, 4.21 ERA) vs. LHP Victor Gonzalez (0-1, 4.61 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.