By Josh Cook
Another night, another grand slam for Devin Mesoraco, another victory for the Louisville Bats.
One night after hitting a walk-off, grand slam in his Triple-A debut to beat Syracuse, Mesoraco hit a second-inning granny to lead Louisville to a 6-2 victory over the Chiefs on Thursday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
It was the 14th straight home victory for the Bats (71-54), who moved within a half-game of Columbus in the International League West standings with 18 games to play. The Clippers lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 9-5 Thursday night. Louisville still holds a three-game lead over Buffalo, which beat Rochester 4-3 Thursday night, and now holds a 7 1/2-game lead over Syracuse (64-62) in the IL wildcard standings.
The Bats have won 22 of their last 26 games, including 22 in a row against teams not named Columbus.
Louisville extended its franchise-best home-winning streak thanks in large part to Mesoraco's second grand slam in as many at-bats. His game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday capped the Bats' 5-3 victory. In his first at-bat Thursday he came up with the bases juiced after Juan Francisco led off the second inning with a double, Wladimir Balentien followed with a single and Danny Dorn walked.
That set up Mesoraco, who was called up from Double-A Carolina on Tuesday, for his base-clearing blast off Syracuse starter Andrew Kown to give the Bats an insurmountable lead.
The Chiefs cut Louisville's lead in half in the third thanks to Brian Bixler's two-run double.
However Francisco's two-run home run in the sixth sealed the victory for the Bats.
That was more than enough offense for Louisville starter Sam LeCure (8-3). The right-hander bounced back from his worst outing of the season - he allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings against Columbus on Aug. 13 - by giving up just two earned runs on four hits while walking two and striking out six over seven innings.
Kown (1-4), meanwhile, allowed six earned runs on six hits while walking one and striking out six over six innings.
Daniel Ray Herrera pitched the final two innings for the Bats, giving up only two hits while walking one and striking out one.
Francisco led Louisville's six-hit attack with a double and a home run to raise his season batting average to .290, and his batting average this month to .400.
Louisville will try for the sweep of Syracuse at 7:05 p.m. Friday night at Slugger Field. Right-hander Aaron Harang (0-1, 9.00 earned-run average) is slated to make his second rehab start for the Bats. He'll face Chiefs' right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (0-0, 0.75). The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a free 2010 team card set. All fans can enjoy the post-game fireworks.