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Bisons' problems?keep on mounting

At this point, the Buffalo Bisons are coming up with new ways to lose ball games.

Consider this tidbit about the Herd's 5-3 loss to Louisville Tuesday night:

The Herd had a 3-1 lead after seven innings. When leading after seven, the Herd was 27-1 overall and 14-0 at home.

The wheels have come off for the Bisons. Back on May 4, the team was in first place in the International League North Division. They are now seven games behind first place Pawtucket and a game and half out of the basement.

Now, the Bisons find themselves on a seven-game losing streak.

Overall, June has been dismal. The Bisons are 7-18 this month and have been outscored 147-89.

The problems have been a mix. Some days it's poor hitting. Other days it's poor pitching. Still other days it's defensive errors.

Tuesday saw Jenrry Mejia and Fernando Cabrera stumble in relief while the offense left 10 runners in scoring position.

"It's tough and the only way you're going to come out of it is to fight your way thorough it," manager Wally Backman said. "We talked about it a little bit [Monday]. We had a meeting after the game and we've still got to fight. The guys are playing hard. They're running the bases hard. They're doing those types of things. We just haven't been able to come up with a clutch hit.

"We've been very inconsistent. We've had our issues with hitting with runners in scoring position,. We were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position [Tuesday]. That's not going to win many ball games. You've got to be able to hit with runners in scoring position. That's one of the most disappointing things that's happened over the last two to three weeks."

Reinforcements may be on the way. Jordany Valdespin returned to the Herd's lineup Tuesday going 2 for 4. Vinny Rottino is on his way back to Buffalo – if he clears waivers by 1 p.m. today.

But that didn't help on Tuesday. Louisville took a 1-0 lead in the third, but the Herd tied it on a solo homer by Matt den Dekker.

Raul Reyes and Josh Rodriguez led off the fourth with back-to-back singles. Den Dekker drew a two-out walk to load the bases and Reyes scored on a passed ball for a 2-1 lead.

The Herd extended the lead to 3-1 in the seventh. Josh Satin singled and Fred Lewis drew a one-out walk. A double to right field by Matt Tuiasosopo scored Satin. Lewis motored home, but didn't beat the play at the plate.

Buffalo could have used that extra run as reliever Mejia imploded in the eighth inning. He gave up back-to-back walks then an RBI single to Bill Rhinehart to make it 3-2.

Cabrera came in to pitch, starting off by hitting a batter to load the bases. He struck out Daryl Jones looking and Joey Gathright flew out to shallow right field. But Dorn tagged from third, and the throw home from Raul Reyes was offline allowing the tying run to score.

Cabrera struggled in the ninth. With the bases loaded and one out, he walked Dorn allowing the go-ahead run to score. A sacrifice to right by Rhinehart gave Louisville a 5-3 lead.

Familia gave up one run on six hits with two walks, three strikeouts and wild pitch in five innings, which left Backman happy.

"Mejia had a good first inning [of relief work]. Today was the day we were trying to get him two innings of work and you saw what happened [in the eighth]. He just couldn't find the plate," he said.

The series continues today at 1:05 p.m. (Radio 1520 AM) Lefty Garrett Olson (2-4, 4.79) is scheduled to start against righty Pedro Villarreal (2-4, 3.86).