By Josh Cook
The Louisville Bats' recent one-run magic continued Tuesday night.
Wladimir Balentien's two-run double with two out in the top of the ninth gave the Bats an 8-7 win over host Toledo at Fifth Third Field.
Louisville's sixth straight victory, and its 17th in its last 18 games, improved the Bats to 9-2 in one-run games in July and August. It also moved them within 1 1/2 games of Columbus (68-50) in the International League West after the Clippers split a doubleheader with Syracuse.
Louisville (66-51) remains 3 1/2 games ahead of Buffalo (62-54), which also has won six in a row, in the IL wildcard standings.
Once again the Bats, just as they did Monday night against the Mud Hens (56-61), got off to a good start.
Wilkin Castillo led off the game with a double against Toledo starter Alfredo Figaro. He moved to third on Yonder Alonso's one-out single, before Figaro hit Todd Frazier to load the bases. Balentien followed with a two-run double as Louisville took a quick 2-0 lead.
The Mud Hens erupted for five runs - all with two outs - off Louisville starter Ben Jukich in the bottom of the third. Scott Sizemore and Andy Dirks had RBI-singles, while Will Rhymes had an RBI-double and Ben Guez capped the scoring with a two-run double.
The Bats retook the lead with a four-run fifth. Figaro walked Denove, the leadoff batter, gave up a double to Castillo, then hit Chris Valaika to load the bases. Alonso grounded into a double play to score Denove, then Frazier followed with an RBI-single. Frazier stole second, then scored on Balentien's single. Figaro intentionally walked Danny Dorn before Bats newcomer Eric Eymann, who was assigned to Louisville from Double-A Carolina, singled home Balentien to chase the Mud Hens' starter.
Toledo tied the game in the bottom of the inning off when Rhymes singled, stole second then scored on a single by Dirks.
That was it for Jukich, who gave up six earned runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out four over five innings.
Homer Bailey, making a rare relief appearance, pitched a hitless sixth before Enerio Del Rosario came on to start the seventh. He gave up a one-out double to Casper Wells before Dirks followed with his third RBI-single of the game for the Mud Hens, who went 5-for-9 at the plate with runners in scoring position.
Mud Hens reliever Jay Sborz (1-6) came on to start the ninth and promptly hit pinch hitter Corky Miller. After Valaika flew out Alonso singled before Frazier flew out. But Balentien came up big with a two-run double.
Aroldis Chapman came on in the ninth and sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a groundout to earn his fifth save of the season.
Del Rosario (4-3) gave up one earned run on two hits while walking one to earn the victory. Castillo and Alonso backed Balentien's three-hit performance with two of their own for Louisville, which finished with 10 hits.
The same two teams meet for Game 3 of the series at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
The Bats' pitching staff got a boost Monday when the parent Cincinnati Reds optioned Travis Wood back to Louisville. The left-hander, who last pitched for the Bats on June 25, posted a 3-1 record and a 2.65 earned-run average with the Reds.
|Top 10 moments of Bats' 2010 regular season [Sports]|
|Jukich, Bats' bats too much for Mud Hens [Sports]|
|Chapman, Dorn, Castillo key Bats' ninth as they beat Clippers 2-1 [Sports]|
|Constanza burns Bats as Clippers win 5-2 [Sports]|
|Miller sparks Bats to comeback win over Indians [Sports]|
|Bailey, Bats beat two homegrown pitchers and Clippers 10-2 [Sports]|
|Balentien's grand slam, and three big innings, help Bats bomb Knights [Sports]|