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SELBY'S HOMER PUSHES BISONS INTO FIRST

Partly because Bill Selby earned a place in Buffalo baseball history, you can now call them the first-place Bisons.

Buffalo's upward climb in the International League North reached a season high Friday night as it sweated out a 3-2 win over the Rochester Red Wings before 9,834 at Frontier Field.

The win moved Buffalo into a tie for the division lead with Syracuse -- the first time since Opening Day the Bisons have had a share of the top spot.

The SkyChiefs snapped their 11-game losing streak by nipping Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 2-1.

Pawtucket fell a half-game off the pace as its eight-game winning streak ended in Ottawa, 2-1.

The Bisons are 8-2 since Aug. 10 and have wiped out the eight-game deficit they faced prior to sweeping a four-game series at Syracuse.

"I knew we had the capabilities as a team to be that successful and things are finally coming together," said winning pitcher Jason Rakers.

"We have a bunch of guys who want to win and succeed. We don't want to pack it up and go home. We want to give it a run."

The Bisons scored all their runs in the second inning, the last two coming on Selby's two-run homer to right.

It was the fifth straight game he has gone deep, tying the all-time franchise record set by Ollie Carnegie in 1938 and equaled by Carlos Garcia in 1992.

"I'm not a home run hitter. Just look at me," said Selby, who's only 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds.

"I just try to put my best swings on pitches to hit."

Selby, Buffalo's designated hitter, roped a 2-0 pitch from Rochester's Darrin Blood (0-2) and it cleared the fence just over the glove of a leaping Willis Otanez.

"In that situation (Phil Hiatt was on third with one out after ripping and RBI double), I was really looking to just get a pitch that I could hit in the air to get the run in," Selby said.

"When I hit it, I just thought I got the job done on the fly ball and it just kept going."

"This is some kind of streak," said manager Jeff Datz. "It's almost like a Jeff Manto streak. He's really hot and it's great to see because he's worked so hard going back and forth (twice to Double-A Akron)."

Selby has six homers in the streak, which began when he hit two in Sunday's 15-10, 14-inning loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

He is on a season-high nine-game hitting streak.

Not bad for a guy who has made two trips to Double-A this year for the first time since 1995.

"It was a struggle at first, but I realize this is a business," Selby said.

"My pride doesn't get in the way. If I had to go back to Double-A to play, that's fine because I want to play."

Rakers (5-6) was just 1-4 with six no-decisions in his last 11 starts, but got the win as he went eight innings and struck out seven. His defense turned four double plays behind him.

"Finally, my last couple starts I've given myself an opportunity to win," Rakers said. "I've established my stuff and tonight we closed it out. I'm just glad we got the win. It's a great way to start this series."

Rakers got out of a big jam in the eighth after Charlie Greene led off with a double.

Jesse Garcia tried to sacrifice and was thrown out at first, but Greene delayed going to third.

He then took off and Enrique Wilson nailed him in a rare 3-4-5 double play.

Rich Batchelor had some nervous moments in the ninth before earning his 18th save.

Jolbert Cabrera's throwing error on P.J. Forbes' grounder and a walk to Danny Clyburn put two runners on.

Batchelor retired the next two hitters, but a wild pitch put the runners at second and third.

Finally, on a 2-2 pitch, Batchelor fanned David Lamb on a wicked sinker for the final out.

"One of the best-pitched games we've had all year," Selby said. "I'm so happy for Rakers. He's had a lot of bad luck and been frustrated."

The 18 saves ties Batchelor with Blas Minor (1992) for the third-highest total in the Bisons' modern era.

Tony Menendez set the record of 24 in 1993.

"That's as well as he's closed out a game this year," Datz said. "To the last three hitters, that's the best he's thrown.

"He did the job there and it's great to be in first place, but there's still a couple of weeks left in this thing.

"We have to perform each and every night and tonight, our guys did a great job."

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