By Josh Cook
The Indianapolis Indians managed only three hits Wednesday night, but they were still enough to beat the Louisville Bats.
That's because two of those hits were home runs - both in Indy's five-run first inning - and they carried the Indians past the Bats 6-2 at Louisville Slugger Field in the final game of a split five-game series.
However the loss wasn't as bad as it could have been for International League West-leading Louisville. That's because although the Bats (74-57) fell for the third time in their last six games, they maintained their 1 1/2-game lead over Columbus (74-58) in the division. That's because the Clippers lost 5-4 in 12 innings to Toledo on Wednesday night.
Louisville only has 12 regular-season games remaining, but the next two may be the most important. The Bats begin a two two-game series against Columbus at 7:05 p.m. Thursday night at Slugger Field.
Still it was a stinker of a first inning for Louisville starter Matt Klinker. The right-hander, who was promoted again from Double-A Carolina on Monday, retired the game's first batter, but walked the second, Akinori Iwamura. The next batter, Alex Presley, launched a two-run home run to give Indy a 2-0 lead.
Klinker then hit back-to-back batters (Brandon Moss and Mitch Jones) before giving up a three-run homer to Brian Myrow that made it 5-0.
That was more than enough for Indians starter Jeremy Powell (10-8), who only made one real mistake - giving up a leadoff home run to Juan Francisco in the second.
Powell gave up just five hits while walking one and striking out seven over six innings.
Meanwhile Klinker calmed down after his shaky start and allowed only one more hit - a fourth-inning single by Doug Bernier - over six inning. He also walked three and struck out six in his first start with the Bats since July 25.
Philippe Valiquette came on after Klinker, walking two and striking out three over two innings. Jerry Gil came on in the ninth and allowed an unearned run.
Gil walked Bernier to start the inning. Bernier advanced to second, then third on a pair of ground outs, before scoring when Iwamura reached on a throwing error by Gil. It was one of three miscues by the Bats.
Anthony Claggett pitched the seventh and eighth innings for the Indians before Corey Hamman came on in the ninth. Hamman gave up a two-out, solo homer to Todd Frazier, but got the next batter, Devin Mesoraco, to line out to end the game.
Frazier led Louisville's seven-hit attack, going 2-for-4.
The Bats begin their key series with Columbus at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. Louisville left-hander Matt Maloney (10-5, 3.35 earned-run average) is scheduled to go against Clippers right-hander Paolo Espino (1-2, 5.32). Espino beat the Bats 1-0 Aug. 14.
As usual it will be Budweiser Game Time "Happy Hour" from 5:30-7 p.m. with $1 Budweiser and Bud Light at Slugger Field. There will also be music from DJ K-Dogg.