Tulsa starting pitcher Bruce Billings wrote his name into the Tulsa professional baseball record book Wednesday night at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri. The right-hander threw seven and 2/3 shutout innings to extend his consecutive scoreless inning streak to 39 innings and break Jim Blackburn's record of 37 2/3 scoreless innings set in 1950. Billings' historic pitching performance and timely hitting led the Tulsa Drillers to a 2-1 victory over the Springfield Cardinals.
Despite seven brilliant innings of shutout work Billings was not in position to earn the win until the eighth inning. Taking the offense into his own hands, he led off the inning with a double just out of the reach of centerfielder Daryl Jones. Charlie Blackmon followed with a run-scoring single that plated Billings. Blackmon eventually scored on a double by Daniel Mayora that gave the Drillers a 2-0 lead.
Billings stayed in the game to work the bottom of the eighth inning, but found himself in trouble and his streak in jeopardy.
After recording the first two outs of the eighth inning, Antonio DeJesus drew a walk and Tyler Henley single to put runs on first and second. The Redbirds threat led to the end of Billings' night as reliever Scott Rice replaced him.
Daryl Jones followed with a walk that loaded the bases and then Rice hit pinchhitter Aaron Luna. The hit-by-pitch allowed DeJesus to score from third and ended Billings scoreless streak at 39 innings. Rice was able to get out of the jam, however, getting Matt Carpenter to groundout to end the threat and hold onto the Drillers 2-1 lead.
Billings was charged with the one earned run, his first since May 3, on the way to his fifth win of the season. Billings was approaching the Texas League record of 42 straight shutout innings, but fell three innings short of the mark.
Stu Pomeranz worked a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his fourth save of the year.
Springfield starter Gary Daley was also brilliant, throwing seven scoreless innings and allowing only three hits to earn a no-decision.
The Drillers will continue their series with the Cardinals Thursday night. Kieth Weiser (3-4, 2.81 ERA) will take the mound for Tulsa against Springfield's Brian Broderick (2-0, 2.57 ERA) First pitch is scheduled 7:10PM at Hammons Field.