Not even turning the first triple play in North AmeriCare Park history could prevent the Buffalo Bisons from continuing their slide Friday night.
The Herd pulled an around-the-horn triple-killing to get out of the seventh inning, but the Nashville Sounds still emerged with a 8-4 win in the opener of the teams' four-game showdown.
A season-high crowd of 20,341 saw the Bisons drop their fifth straight game, equaling their five-game slide April 23-27. Buffalo's lead over second-place Nashville in the American Association East is 4 1/2 games after being 8 1/2 as recently as Monday.
Buffalo second baseman Torey Lovullo was in the middle of the action in this one.
His error fielding pitcher Steve Kline's good throw to second allowed Nashville to get an unearned run in the first. Lovullo redeemed himself with a solo home run in the fourth -- his fifth in the last seven games -- to tie the score at 4-4.
Then came Lovullo's historic pivot in the seventh. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Nashville first baseman Rick Wrona hit a sharp grounder to third. Jeff Manto took two steps, tagged the bag and flipped to Lovullo at second. With Robert Machado bearing down on him, Lovullo fired a strike to first baseman Richie Sexson to get pitcher Tony Dougherty out of the innning.
"With Wrona (who is normally a catcher) running, I thought we had a chance," Lovullo said. "I just wanted to get it out of my glove as quickly as I could."
It was Buffalo's first triple play since June 26, 1985 at Louisville, when center fielder John Cangelosi started one by spearing a line drive from Tom Pagnozzi.
"It was exciting. We were all pumped and high-fiving each other," Lovullo said. "The crowd was into it but we couldn't capitalize on it momentum-wise."
"You'd think that might kick a little life in us, but we just did not play good baseball tonight," said manager Brian Graham.
Despite the triple play, Nashville won the game thanks to a 14-hit attack and a solid outing from starter Nelson Cruz (10-6), who took over the Association victory lead.
Jeff Abbott's sixth-inning RBI single snapped a 4-4 tie. The Sounds got insurance on Greg Norton's solo home run in the seventh, Magglio Ordonez's RBI single in the eighth and Julio Vinas' solo home run in the ninth. Ordonez went 3 for 5 to increase his Association-leading batting average to .334.
Cruz went seven innings, allowing six hits and striking out nine. He retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.
Nashville scored its last four runs off Buffalo relievers, with Dougherty letting one runner score that he inherited from Kline (3-3). Dougherty, Jeff Sexton and Angel Miranda were touched for six hits and walked three in 3 2/3 innings.