So this is what it means to have your mojo going.
Outfielder Brad Snyder wasn't in the lineup and Aaron Laffey wasn't at his best. But one swing by Hector Luna made everything better for the Buffalo Bisons, who pounded the Durham Bulls, 8-2, Friday night in front of about 9,000 (11,832 tickets were sold) at Dunn Tire Park.
The Bisons led, 5-2, when Luna hit a three-run homer to left in the sixth inning that helped push the Herd to their 12th win in their last 16 games. The Bisons have the best record in the International League at 49-36.
Bisons reliever Juan Lara loaded the bases in the ninth with one out but got Brent Butler to fly out and Justin Ruggiano to pop out to end the game.
"Everybody is getting hits in big situations," said outfielder Jonathan Van Every, one of four Bisons who went 2 for 4. "The bullpen has been great, the starting pitching has been good and we're just all kind of clicking at the same time."
The Herd leads the IL North Division by four games over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. The Bisons have been in first place in the IL North since May 5, a span of 64 consecutive days, and are coming off consecutive series victories against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and third-place Rochester.
It was the third home run in the last four games for Luna, who went 1 for 4 with three RBIs on Friday. In Thursday's 3-0 victory over Durham, Luna went 3 for 5 including a double.
"Hector's home run was huge," Van Every said. "It's always crushing to have a big three-run homer with two outs and fortunately we were on the good side of it. It's always a good feeling to pad the lead at that point in the ball game."
Luna has been steady during the Bisons' hot streak, hitting .270 over the last 15 games but during the current homestand he's hitting .357 with three homers and eight RBIs.
Snyder has the hottest bat on the team and extended his hitting streak to nine games after Thursday's against Durham, but didn't attend the game Friday because of personal reasons, Bisons manager Torey Lovullo said after the game. Lovullo said Snyder will return to the lineup tonight. It was assumed Snyder's bat would be missed -- he's hitting .387 since June 21 -- but the Bisons' hitting continued.
In addition to Luna's blast, third baseman Andy Marte drove in a pair of runs.
Most pitchers in the IL would gladly take Laffey's line of 5 1/3 innings, two runs and three strikeouts, but he's been so commanding of late that it was almost surprising he didn't totally dismantle the Bulls.
Laffey left the game after giving up a run in the sixth inning with two on and one out. Bubbie Buzachero came out on in relief and got Jorge Velandia to pop out to second before striking out Jeremy Owens with a fastball to end the threat.
"Maybe he lost focus for about five or six pitches and it cost him a run," Lovullo said. "He'll learn from that, we'll address that and if he makes a mental mistake that he won't let it linger."
Laffey is coming off a record-breaking June. The left-hander won all six of his games last month, becoming the first Herd pitcher in the modern era to record six wins in a single month (6-0, 0.87 ERA). He set a season-high with 8 1/3 innings of work and nine strikeouts in his last outing in Rochester on June 30.
The Herd has won four consecutive season series against the Bulls since 2003, and has not lost a season series against Durham since 1999.
The Bisons will try for their 50th win of the season when they take on Durham again tonight at 7:05 p.m. (1230 AM), with left-hander Jeremy Sowers (0-2, 5.26) going against right-hander Jae Seo (2-1, 4.78).
Bisons 8 Durham 2
The Pitch: Luna hits his third home run in his last four games. . . . Marte drives in two runs. . . . Laffey wins his seventh game.
Fast fact: The Bisons have won 12 of their last 16 games.
Next game: Tonight vs. Durham Bulls, 7:05 p.m., Dunn Tire Park (RubberBoy Appearance)