By Josh Cook
The Louisville Bats are finally starting to catch up to the weather.
Coming off the hottest June on record in the city Louisville's Triple-A baseball team is off to a red-hot start in July.
The Bats improved to 8-3 this month Saturday night with their 4-2 win over International League West-leading Columbus in front of 10,222 at Louisville Slugger Field.
Right-hander Chad Reineke (6-6) won for the fourth time in his last five starts and he got plenty of help from the Bats' bats and arms. Louisville scored single runs in the first, fourth, fifth and eighth innings and four relievers helped secure the victory for Reineke.
Things started off well for Louisville (44-47).
With one out in the first Zack Cozart walked, stole second (his 20th theft of the season) and scored on Juan Francisco's single.
The Clippers (54-36) tied the score in the fourth on Nick Weglarz's RBI-single.
Louisville retook the lead in the bottom of the inning. Todd Frazier led off with a single, moved to third on Daniel Dorn's double and scored on Wladimir Balentien's sacrifice fly.
The Bats made it 3-1 in the fifth when Cozart led off with a double to right field, then scored on Frazier's one-out single off Clippers starter Carlos Carrasco (7-4).
Wes Hodges homered with one out in the sixth to pull Columbus within one, at 3-2. Weglarz followed with a double to chase Reineke, who gave up nine hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out three over 5 1/3 innings to lower his earned-run average to 3.04.
The Bats made it 4-2 in the eighth on Balentien's two-out solo home run to center field.
That was more than enough for reliever Enerio Del Rosario, Aroldis Chapman, Jared Burton and Daniel Ray Herrera. That quartet provided 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief while giving up three hits (all allowed by Burton), walking two (both by Chapman) and striking out three.
The same two teams wrap up their brief two-game series at 6:05 p.m. Sunday evening as recent call-up James Avery will make his first Triple-A start for the Bats and he'll face Columbus right-hander Jeanmar Gomez (6-7, 5.26 ERA).
The game, the final one before the All-Star break, features a bevy of promotions. First, and foremost, is Military Appreciation Day. All active duty, reserve, guard and family members with a valid military ID will receive free admission to the game, as will all VFW, DAV, AMVETS, American Legion and other Veterans Service Organizations with ID.
It will also be Knothole Gang Day at Slugger Field. Children 12 and under will receive a free field reserved ticket when showing their 2010 Marathon Oil Knothole Gang membership card and accompanied by a full-paying adult.
There will also be a "Top Prospects Baseball Card" set giveaway, which will include one of Chapman, for the first 2,000 fans. Additionally there will be an appearance by SpongeBob SquarePants as well as the usual Sunday attractions of Mortenson Inflatable Kids Zone in the Hall of Fame Pavilion and the Kids Run the Bases after the game.
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