The Buffalo Bisons avoided being on the wrong end of a sweep against the Louisville Bats at home for only the second time since 2008, salvaging a 7-2 win in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Coca-Cola Field.
After dropping the first two games of the series, 6-5 and 5-2, Buffalo (45-63) banged out two runs in the first inning and three more in the third to distance itself from Louisville (44-63) early on. The Bisons staff allowed its fewest runs in seven games, dating back to a 5-2 Buffalo win at Louisville on July 23.
Base thieves: The Bisons, who lead the International League with 105 stolen bases, ran rampant on Louisville Sunday. The hosts stole five bases for only the fourth time this season. Buffalo didn't steal a base through the first four innings, but Jake Elmore kicked off the basepath fireworks when he swiped second in the top of the fifth.
The Bisons then stole four bases in the sixth, including two delayed steals that caught Bats catcher Chad Wallach off guard. Jon Berti, Dwight Smith Jr., Shane Opitz and Roemon Fields each stole a bag in the half-inning, Fields' thievery his league-leading 29th of the year.
"It looks great when they make it," Bisons manager Bobby Meacham said. "It's tough when they don't, but when they get on they get a rhythm. Just like anything else, you start to get a feel for what you're doing instead of once in a while getting on."
Elmore stays hot: The Bisons left fielder followed up his three-hit game yesterday with a two-hit one today, slicing an RBI triple down the right-field line in the first inning and lofting an RBI single into shallow right in the third. Elmore finished the three-game series 7-for-13 at the plate. In his last eight games, Elmore is 10-for-27, good for a .370 average. He also gunned down Darnell Sweeney trying to score from second on a single to left, one-hopping the throw to Raffy Lopez, who tagged Sweeney out in plenty of time.
"For me, I feel like it's been a long time coming," Elmore said. "It's been kind of an up-and-down year, more down than up. But yeah, last few games, comfortable at the plate. I've seen it well, getting walks. That's a sign of good things for me."
Lopez nears .300: Only Fields (.303) has an average of at least .300 for the Bisons after his eighth-inning single up the middle prevented his average from dropping below .300. Lopez is close to joining him, though, sitting at .295 after two more hits on Sunday. The catcher finished the three-game set 7-for-11 against his former team.
On the bump: The Bisons arms tossed their best game of the homestand on Sunday with four pitchers combining to allow only a pair of runs. Lucas Harrell got the start and tossed three innings of three-hit, one-run ball and Tim Mayza followed that up with three scoreless innings of his own. Leonel Campos allowed one run in the seventh, before Wil Browning shut out the Bats in the eighth and ninth.
"I thought Harrell struggled early. It was like he was out of synch, out of whack, different deliveries almost ... finally got through the last inning," Meacham said. "Timmy Mayza, he turned some things around. I thought he did the same thing. He hadn't been out there in a while. He found himself and did a good job.
"It was good to see a couple guys like that who haven't pitched in a while come back and do a good job."
Up next: Buffalo has Monday off before visiting Scranton on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. The Bisons will throw lefty Brett Oberholtzer (2-4, 6.10 ERA) against the RailRiders' Chance Adams (6-3, 2.39).