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Herd hits sour notes at home PawSox starter Alvarez keeps Bisons off-stride

This is not the way the Buffalo Bisons wanted to return home.

The Herd last week completed its best road trip since May 2005, going 6-2 in Columbus and Toledo.

But Dunn Tire Park has not been friendly confines for the Bisons, as the Herd dropped its second straight game to the Pawtucket Red Sox. A crowd of 8,184 saw the PawSox earn a 6-1 win on Sunday afternoon.

The Herd now has its first back-to-back losses of the season and is in danger of being swept for the first time in 2007. The three-game series closes tonight.

"It was a confident baseball team . . . a team that was rolling," manager Torey Lovullo said of the Herd's successful road trip. "We came in here I think a little sluggish [Saturday] and we're showing the effects of that. We've got to rebound and capture the final game of the series because we don't want to be swept by anybody."

Sunday's game was a study in pitching opposites. Pawtucket starter Abe Alvarez, a slow-throwing left hander, hit his spots and made life miserable for Bison hitters while Buffalo starter Brian Slocum never seemed to find his groove, giving up three home runs.

"Pitching definitely sets the tone," Lovullo said. "[Slocum] didn't locate his fastball and establish his fastball. From the get-go he was really struggling with that pitch and made some mistakes. And when you give up three home runs in a game like today where you're not scoring runs, it's going to hurt you."

Slocum (1-1) gave up five runs on seven hits in his five innings of work. He struck out five and walked two.

Conversely, Alvarez (1-2) pitched a solid game, giving up the one run on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings. PawSox pitching gave up just four hits in the game and retired 14 straight Bison batters from the third to the seventh innings.

"We had some good at-bats early and then I think we just got too big in our approach," Lovullo said. "With a lefty like that, you've just got to take what he gives you. And he made mistakes at the right time. He fell behind hitters and we took advantage of that to put some runners in scoring position but we just couldn't get that big hit."

"He's a tough guy," said Franklin Gutierrez, who had two hits and the lone RBI for the Herd. "Alvarez doesn't throw very hard but he hits the spots. He knows how to throw the ball and we just didn't make the adjustments today so that's why we didn't hit."

Pawtucket took a 1-0 lead when David Murphy hit a solo homer to kick off the second inning. Luis Jimenez then drove a 2-2 pitch to left field with two outs for another solo homer to make it 2-0.

The Bisons made it 2-1 in the second. After Hector Luna and David Wallace had reached on walks. Gutierrez singled to left field to score Luna. Wallace, however, was thrown out on theplay when he was caught in a rundown at second base to end the inning.

The Hard did not get another baserunner until Luna singled in the seventh. Buffalo left three runners on in the last three innings.

The PawSox, meanwhile, slowly added to their lead. In the fourth Kevin Cash hit a two-out double down the left field line to make it 3-1.

In the fifth, the lead went to 5-1 when with two outs and a runner on first, Brandon Moss drilled the first pitch he saw over the right-center field fence for a two-run homer.

An error by third baseman Keith Ginter on a throw to first, which would have ended the seventh inning, allowed another run to score for a 6-1 PawSox lead.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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Pawtucket 6 Bisons 1

The pitch: Bisons lose two straight for first time this season. . . . Herd had just four hits. . . . Slocum gave up five runs on seven hits.

Fast fact: Bison pitchers have given up eight home runs this season, all in the last six games.

Next game: Tonight vs. Pawtucket, 6:05 p.m. (Markdown Monday).

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