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Bisons' Stanford in groove

Nearly three years after major arm surgery, Jason Stanford finally believes he is back to his old form and he's proving it.

The 30-year-old Buffalo Bisons left-hander allowed just a first-inning single while pitching seven scoreless frames in a 4-0 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens on Wednesday morning in Fifth Third Field.

Stanford has allowed no runs and just four hits in 13 innings this season, the seventh in which he has appeared in a lineup for the Herd. He hurled six shutout innings against Columbus last Friday.

"I'm pretty close to where I was before I got hurt," said Stanford, who underwent Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2004. He missed most of 2004 and virtually all of the 2005 season before returning to the Bisons last year to pitch 122 innings and post a 6-6 record in 22 starts.

"It's taken that long. Last year I was kind of getting a feel for [pitching again]. I came into spring training this year feeling very good and very strong, and I've just taken it from there."
Stanford struck out seven against Toledo. After Kevin Hooper's infield single to lead off the first, Stanford went into cruise control. He allowed just four base runners the rest of his 93-pitch outing.

"I don't even have to think about [my elbow problems] any more. I just go out and have fun again. I can go out there and throw my fastball in and out, then throw my change-up and my breaking balls. When I'm able to do that, I can be very effective."

Keith Ginter's two-run double in the first inning gave Stanford a working margin right off the bat. Ginter's sacrifice fly sent another run home in the fifth and Franklin Gutierrez hit a solo homer in the ninth.

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo (shin injury) was scratched from the original lineup because he was still hurting and outfielder Brad Snyder (ankle) also did not play. . . . The Bisons activated infielder Joe Inglett and placed infielder Trent Durrington (lower back) on the disabled list (back). . . . Right-hander Sean Smith will make a spot start for the Bisons in the third game of the Toledo series at 6:30 tonight (Radio 1230 AM). He will face Toledo's Yorman Bazardo.

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