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Bell sends Bisons home happy; Herd comes back for third straight

You can never count these Buffalo Bisons out, at least not lately.

Trailing by three in the eighth, the Bisons pushed four runs across to cap a third consecutive come-from-behind win, beating the Durham Bulls, 7-6, in front of about 8,000 Saturday night at Coca-Cola Field.

The Bisons earned one-run wins on both Thursday and Friday, Thursday winning on a Zach Lutz walk-off double and Friday scoring the final three runs to win, 3-2.

Saturday, Bubba Bell was the hero, pinch-hitting for center fielder Fernando Perez. Down by two, with two outs and the bases loaded, Bell sent the first pitch he saw deep enough to give him a bases-clearing double and the Bisons the lead for the first and final time.

"I've had a lot of ABs against [Durham reliever Rob] Delaney, and I knew I wanted to jump on something early," Bell said. "He left a good pitch out there that I could jump on."

Bell hasn't seen much action for the Bisons this season, appearing in just 56 games.

"It's tough to get into a groove," Bell said. "But when you can get out there and fortunately still see the ball good, you know after having a few days off, then you know it always makes you feel good, and it gives you that confidence you need to contribute in any way you can."

Reliever John Lujan earned his second save this year, retiring three straight Bulls in the ninth.

The rally in the eighth started with a solo home run by Lutz, followed by Valentino Pascucci singling on a ground ball to right field, putting the tying run at the plate with no one out.

Fernando Martinez fouled out to first, and Luis Hernandez flied out to left, leaving the rally in jeopardy. However, Jesus Feliciano kept it alive with a base hit up the middle, and Luis Figueroa, also pinch hitting, drove one into left field to load the bases before Bell's decisive hit.

Bisons manager Tim Teufel was buzzing after the win.

"Talk about playing a full season, these guys are playing a full season," he said. "They're playing it out. Even though the record, we're behind a little bit in the standings, these guys are playing hard and giving us a good effort every night."

He was impressed by the pinch-hitters in the eighth.

"The toughest thing to do in baseball is pinch-hit," Teufel said. "Figueroa did a great job and then the big hit with Bell, coming off the bench, the first pitch going opposite field over the left fielder's head for a game-winning hit, basically, at that point. Lujan comes in and closes it out, he did a great job in that closer role."

The Bulls pinged Bisons starter Chris Schwinden (7-6) for three runs in the first, but the right-hander settled down in the next few innings.

"He got off to a little shaky start," Teufel said. "But then he started feeling it again, and started to make some quality pitches, got some ground ball outs, and he took us as far as we wanted him to go tonight."

Schwinden went five complete, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four.

Down by three in the fourth, Pascucci tied the game with one swing of the bat, sending a three-run homer to left-center field, his 18th of the season.

"Pascucci got us back in the game," Teufel said. "He gets a pitch up in the zone a little bit, with runners on, and he hits a bomb. Tied up the game 3-3, and then we scrapped from there."

The Bisons' homestand continues today at 1:05 p.m. (Radio 1520 AM) with the third game of a of the four-game set with Durham. Lefty Mark Cohoon (3-7, 6.49) will pitch for Buffalo against Bulls right-hander Andy Sonnanstine (2-3, 4.17).

e-mail: skilb@buffnews.com