By Josh Cook
Wladimir Balentien was atrocious in April, but in August he's been awesome.
The Louisville Bats right fielder continued his torrid month Tuesday night, hitting two home runs and driving in four in the Bats' 5-1 win over the Indianapolis Indians at Louisville Slugger Field.
Louisville's victory, coupled with Columbus' 7-3 loss to Toledo, boosted the International League West-lead of the Bats (74-56) to 1 1/2 games over the Clippers (73-58) with 13 games remaining.
It also boosted the batting average of Balentien, who hit a paltry .118 in 11 games with Louisville in April, to .468 for August and .289 for the season.
Ironically the only Bats' run Balentien didn't account for was their first.
With two outs in the third inning Dave Sappelt tripled, then scored on a wild pitch by Indy starter Michael Crotta (5-8).
One inning later Yonder Alonso led off with a three-bagger to right field before Balentien hit him home with an RBI-single.
That was a good cushion for Louisville starter Jeremy Horst, who was making a spot start as well as his first one in Triple-A this season. The left-hander, who has spent most of the season at Double-A Carolina, gave up just two hits while striking out four over four innings in his fourth appearance with the Bats.
Lee Tabor (1-1), who was assigned to Louisville from Carolina earlier in the day, came on to pitch the fifth and sixth innings. He allowed one hit, while striking out one to pick up his first Triple-A win of the season.
Alonso and Balentien teamed up again in the sixth. Alonso led off the bottom half of the inning with a single to right field before Balentien followed with his 23rd home run of the season to make it 4-0.
The Indians (65-66) tallied their lone run in the seventh when Mitch Jones led off the inning with a double off new Louisville pitcher Carlos Fisher. Jones took third on a passed ball by catcher Corky Miller, then scored on Erik Kratz's single.
Balentien added a solo home run - his team-leading 24th of the season - with one out in the eighth to account for the final margin.
He finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored, while Alonso went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Daniel Ray Herrera, who relieved Fisher to start the eighth, allowed one hit over the final two innings for his fifth save of the season.
In addition to Tabor's promotion it was a very busy day for the Bats. Pitcher Sam LeCure and infielder Chris Valaika were called up by the parent Cincinnati Reds. It was the first big-league promotion for Valaika, who has been the Bats' most consistent player of the season and was replaced on the roster by Kris Negron, who was promoted from Carolina. To make room for LeCure and Valaika on their roster the Reds sent down right-handed pitcher Jordan Smith.
The Bats and Indians conclude their five-game split series at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday night. Louisville right-hander Matt Klinker (4-1, 5.14 earned-run average), who was assigned to the Bats from Carolina on Monday, is slated to take on Indy righty Jeremy Powell (9-8, 4.77). As usual Wednesday night is Ladies' Night at Slugger Field, so field reserved tickets can be purchased at half-price for females 13 and older.
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