When asked how he'd pitch to teammates Brad Snyder and Hector Luna these days, Buffalo Bisons starter Sean Smith hatched the perfect getaway plan.
"I don't know," said Smith, smiling. "I'd probably pitch around them."
Their streak continued against the Durham Bulls with a combined 5-for-8 performance on Thursday night. Smith did his part by limiting the Bulls to just four hits over seven innings in the Bisons' 3-0 victory before a crowd of about 4,000 (7,670 tickets were sold) in Dunn Tire Park.
The game was delayed for 45 minutes because of a rain and lightning storm but Snyder, Luna and Smith did their damage long before the stoppage.
Snyder, who hit .179 (10 for 28) in June, ran his hit total to six in three games in July, and has hit safely in the last nine -- the longest current streak on the team. The outfielder is batting .571 to start the month.
Snyder singled on a line drive to right in the second inning that scored Andy Marte from third for a 1-0 Herd lead. Snyder singled on a ground ball to right in the fourth with one on and one down but the threat ended when Jonathan Van Every grounded into a double play.
"Basically, I've tried to simplify things as much as I can," Snyder said. "I wait as long as I can to see the ball and just react. I'm not really looking for anything, I just try and see the ball as long as possible."
Luna isn't as hot as Snyder, but three days after he launched a pair of home runs against Rochester, he went 3 for 5. Luna doubled to left in the fifth inning and scored on Ryan Mulhern's ground ball single to center to give the Bisons a 2-0 advantage.
"Hector is a special player," said Bisons manager Torey Lovullo. "He's starting to really find his groove and I'm happy for him. He had been a role player the past four years and it takes time mentally to get back into an everyday mind frame. I think Hector is slowly figuring out what his skills are, what his strengths are once again after being a role player."
The three-run cushion proved to be enough because Durham barely touched Smith (7-5), who didn't allow a run while striking out five in seven complete innings to gain the victory. If not for the rain delay Smith, who threw 94 pitches, looked strong enough to complete the game.
"I felt good, I felt like I finished strong in the seventh," Smith said. "Anytime you pitch that well, you don't want to come out of the game."
Herd reliever Jensen Lewis came on in the eighth and ran his consecutive scoreless innings streak to seven, while Mike Koplove finished the ninth for the save.
Tonight, the Bisons are scheduled to send left-hander Aaron Laffey (6-3) against Durham right-hander Mitch Talbot (6-6) at 7:35 p.m. (Radio 1230 AM).
The pitch: Starter Smith wins his seventh game of the season. ... Marte scores two runs. ... Reliever Lewis runs his consecutive scoreless streak to seven innings.
Fast fact: Snyder extends his hit streak to nine games, the longest active streak on the team.
Next game: Tonight vs. Durham Bulls, 7:35 p.m., Dunn Tire Park (fridaynightbash!)