By Josh Cook
The Louisville Bats changed it up Thursday night.
Their offense had carried them to six straight wins, but it was their pitching that carried them to their seven victory in a row.
A trio of pitchers, led by starter Matt Maloney, led Louisville to a 2-0 win over Charlotte in front of 8,075 fans at Louisville Slugger Field.
The left-handed Maloney allowed only two hits over seven innings, while striking out five as the Bats (56-50) continued to build upon their season-best winning streak.
Louisville has now won 10 of its last 11 games and 20 of its last 25 and is a half game in front of Indianapolis (56-51) in the chase for the International League wildcard playoff berth.
The Bats had averaged more than nine runs per game in their previous six outings, but they needed only an RBI-single by Juan Francisco and a sacrifice fly from Chris Dickerson to improve to 6-1 against the Knights (52-55) this season.
That's because Louisville's pitching staff recorded its 11th shutout - which ties Durham for the IL lead - this season.
Relievers Russ Springer and Daniel Ray Herrera held Charlotte to one hit over the final two innings as Louisville improved the second-best earned-run average in the IL to 3.63.
Maloney dropped his ERA to 2.91 - which ranks third in the IL. He retired the Knights in order in the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings to post his third wins in his last three starts.
Maloney and Carlos Torres dueled for the first five innings, but Torres left after allowing only two hits and striking out six in five innings. Zack Cozart greeted new pitcher Jhonny Nunez with a single to start the bottom of the sixth. Cozart stole second, his 24th theft of the season, then scored on Francisco's two-out single to right field.
Louisville manufactured another run in the seventh. Nunez walked Drew Sutton to lead off the inning. Sutton then stole second, took third on Chris Valaika's bunt single and scored on Dickerson's sac fly.
One day after he was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor public intoxication Herrera pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for his third save of the season.
Five different Bats - Cozart, Francisco, Wladimir Balentien, Valaika and Corky Miller - had singles to account for Louisville's five hits.
The Bats will try for their first four-game sweep of the season at 7:05 p.m. Friday with fireworks to follow win, or lose.