By Josh Cook
For the second night in a row the Louisville Bats lost an early lead, and the game. And they did it in unlikely fashion.
Louisville reliever Jared Burton walked in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as the visiting Bats lost 5-4 to Durham, the team with the best record in the International League.
However things started off well for Louisville (36-44), which closed out June by losing four of its final five games to finish the month with a 12-16 record.
The Bats built a 3-0 lead by scoring single runs in the first, second and third.
Gary Matthews Jr. started the game with a triple off Bulls starter Jeremy Hellickson. He scored when Zack Cozart, the next batter, grounded out.
Juan Francisco led off the second with a home run, his fifth of the season, to right field.
In the third Cozart singled with one out, moved to third on Yonder Alonso's single and scored on Wladimir Balentien's single.
But the Bulls (48-31) began their comeback in the bottom of the inning. Louisville starter Ben Jukich gave up an RBI-double to Justin Ruggiano and an RBI-single to Dan Johnson, which made it 3-2.
The Bulls tied the game in the fifth on another RBI-single by Johnson - the IL's RBI leader.
Jukich left after six innings having allowed three earned runs on six hits while walking four and striking out three.
Louisville retook the lead in the seventh when Cozart reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second on Alonso's single, then stole third on a double-steal with Alonso. Durham second baseman Joe Dillon missed the throw from catcher Jose Lobaton on that play, which allowed Cozart to score.
The Bulls tied the game again on Chris Richard's RBI-double off reliever Enerio Del Rosario in the eighth. It was the second blown save of the season for Del Rosario, who gave up three hits and one earned run in two innings.
Carlos Fisher pitched a perfect ninth inning before Burton came on to start the 10th. He gave up a one-out single to Dillon, who was replaced by pinch-runner Desmond Jennings. Omar Luna reached on a fielder's choice, then Burton walked Richard to load the bases. After a coaching visit to the mound Burton (1-2) struck out Angel Chavez before walking Lobaton. Lobaton swung and missed on Burton's first offering, then took four straight balls.
Darin Downs (2-0), who pitched a perfect 10th inning, picked up the victory.
Alonso led Louisville's 12-hit attack with three hits, while Matthews and Balentien added two apiece.
The two teams meet for the third game of their series at 7:05 p.m. Thursday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in what will be a battle of left-handers. Matt Maloney (6-4, 3.60 earned run average) will try to help Louisville when its first game of the series as he takes on Carlos Hernandez (6-3, 3.36).
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