By Josh Cook
The Louisville Bats needed 12 to win 11.
Chris Dickerson's RBI-single in the top of the 12th inning gave the Bats a 4-3 win - their 11th in a row - over host Columbus at Huntington Park on Tuesday night.
The victory, Louisville's 14th in its last 15 games and 24th in 29, moved the Bats (60-50) within 5 1/2 games of the International League West-leading Clippers (66-45).
It also gave Louisville a four-game lead over Buffalo (56-54) and Indianapolis (57-55) in the race for the IL wildcard playoff berth.
It was also the Bats' second straight extra innings victory over Columbus. Sunday night they beat the Clippers 3-2 at Louisville Slugger Field. After a day off for travel Louisville went overtime again to clip the Clippers by a run.
Things started off well for Louisville.
Dickerson led off the game with a solo home run to center field, his third big fly during his rehab assignment, off Columbus starter Paolo Espino.
The Bats took a 2-0 lead in the third. Drew Sutton led off with a double, moved to third on Dickerson's single and scored when Zack Cozart grounded into a double play.
The Clippers, however, rallied. They scored three runs - on Jerad Head's two-RBI single and Richard Martinez's ground out - in the fourth off Louisville starter Sam LeCure.
LeCure lasted seven innings, allowing those three earned runs on six hits while walking one and striking out two in his second straight no-decision.
His counterpart was equally as effective. In his Triple-A debut Espino yielded two earned runs on six hits while striking out four in seven innings.
Louisville tied the game in the eighth off Espino's replacement - Jess Todd.
Dickerson walked with one out, stole second, took third on Cozart's single and scored when Yonder Alonso hit into a fielder's choice.
The two teams remained scoreless until the 12th. That's when Danny Dorn led off with a single off Columbus reliever Carlton Smith (1-3). He moved to second, then third on back-to-back sacrifice bunts by Corky Miller and Michael Griffin. After Drew Sutton walked to load the bases (Miller reached on a throwing error by Smith) Dickerson singled to score Dorn.
Highly-touted rookie Aroldis Chapman came on in the bottom of the inning to notch his second save of the season. The flame-throwing left-hander struck out one and reached 103 miles per hour not once, but twice, on the radar gun.
Jared Burton (3-2) picked up the win with two innings of relief. Burton struck out three and also got some help from his defense, which turned a double play in the 10th. Micah Owings, Carlos Fisher and Phillippe Valiquette combined to provide two innings of two-hit relief.
Dickerson went 3-for-5 to lead Louisville's 11-hit attack and to raise his batting average with the Bats to .442. Cozart and Wladimir Balentien added two hits apiece.
The Bats will try for their 12th straight victory - which would equal the franchise record established in 2003 - when the two teams close out their split four-game series at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday. Left-hander Matt Maloney (9-5, 2.91 earned run average) is slated to take on Columbus righty Yohan Pino (8-6, 5.48).
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