By Josh Cook
The Louisville Bats kept up their winning ways over the weekend, finishing off a four-game sweep of Norfolk with three wins.
The Bats beat the Tides 8-7 Friday, 5-2 Saturday and 8-7 Sunday to move within 2 1/2 games of International League West-leading Columbus and also establish a new consecutive-game win streak at Louisville Slugger Field.
On Friday the short-handed Bats built an 8-0 lead, then held on after a six-run seventh inning by the Tides for their ninth straight win at Louisville Slugger Field. And they did it with only nine players.
Zack Cozart hit a three-run home run in the third inning and before Chris Valaika's home run - in his first game back in the lineup - sparked a five-run fourth inning.
Wladimir Balentien and Chris Denove had three hits apiece to lead Louisville's 16-hit attack, while Wilkin Castillo, Danny Dorn and Todd Frazier added two hits apiece.
Recently-signed veteran Jason Isringhausen (1-0), one of six Louisville pitchers on the night, picked up his first victory with the Bats.
On Saturday the Bats built a 5-0 lead and rode a strong start from Chad Reineke to beat the Tides again for their 10th win in a row at Slugger Field (which tied the record of the 2003 team). Reineke (8-7) gave up four singles, while striking out four over six innings as he improved to 7-3 at home this season.
His teammates gave him plenty of run support. Michael Griffin's two-run single in the fourth put the Bats on the scoreboard. Todd Frazier also had an RBI-double.
Yonder Alonso, who missed Friday night's game after having a root canal, and Frazier led Louisville with two hits apiece.
The Bats completed the sweep Sunday night, hanging on for their second 8-7 win of the weekend.
Louisville fell behind 2-0 in the second inning, but scored five runs in the fourth and three runs in the seventh for an 8-3 lead. The Tides rallied for one run in the eighth and three in the ninth before the Bats finally closed out the game and their record 11th straight victory at Slugger Field.
Veteran catcher Corky Miller went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. Cozart, Alonso, Frazier and Castillo added two hits apiece as Louisville beat up on highly-touted Baltimore Orioles pitcing prospect Zach Britton (1-2).
Sam LeCure (7-2) picked up the victory, giving up three earned runs on nine hits while walking two and striking out five over 5 2/3 innings. The Bats' bullpen, though, was in a giving mood. Jared Burton yielded three hits and one earned run over two-thirds of an inning, while highly-touted rookie Aroldis Chapman gave up three runs (two earned) on two hits in 1 1/3 innings. He was, though, able to finish off the Tides to earn his fourth save of the season.