The Louisville Bats finally gave Pedro Villarreal the run support he needed as they beat the Gwinnett Braves 3-2 Sunday night before a Louisville Slugger Field crowd of 8,507. The Bats’ third straight win over the Braves gave them their fourth series win of the season.
Villarreal (3-6) was once again stellar, giving up just one run while scattering eight hits over seven innings of work. Villarreal gave up just one earned run for the third straight game while earning his eighth quality start. The win ended a string of six straight losing decisions; the Bats (36-60) were 1-8 in his last nine starts.
“(Villarreal) is such a terrific competitor,” Bats manager David Bell. “Today he had a good fastball, good slider, and made good pitches. He’s been doing that all year.”
The lone run Villarreal surrendered came in the fifth when he gave up a bases loaded single to Jose Constanza. The hit gave Constanza a Gwinnett record 18 game hitting streak.
Villarreal was able to get out of the inning by striking out Luis Durango swinging and Jordan Parraz looking.
After the inning, Braves manager Dave Brundage was thrown out by home plate umpire Will Little for arguing balls and strikes.
The Bats’ offense, after getting no-hit through four against Braves starter Jose Lugo, got three straight singles in the fifth, but, on the third hit, Willie Harris tried to score from second and was thrown out at home by Constanza, keeping the Braves up 1-0.
The Bats got another opportunity in the sixth and made good of it. After Didi Gregorius doubled with one out, Henry Rodriguez singled to put runners at the corners. Neftali Soto beat out an inning ending double play, allowing Gregorius to score the tying run. Xavier Paul then doubled off the left-center field wall to plate Soto and give the Bats a 2-1 lead.
A big insurance run came in the seventh when Mike Costanzo, who doubled to start the inning, came around to score on a base hit from Denis Phipps to make it 3-1.
That run turned out to be the game winner as Ernesto Mejia homered off JJ Hoover in the eighth to make the score 3-2.
Hoover pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season.
“Today we had three runs against a good pitcher,” Bell said. “It was enough because of the job Pedro and Hoover did.”
The Bats take their winnings streak on the road to Columbus Monday night where they’ll open a four game series with the Clippers. Ryan Feierabend (1-3, 6.23 ERA) will take the hill for the Bats against Chris Seddon (8-5, 3.52 ERA) of the Clippers. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.