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Pillar homer gets Herd rolling

FORT MILL, S.C. — Kevin Pillar set the tone with a leadoff home run, his second in two games, and the Buffalo Bisons led the rest of the way in an 11-3 victory over the Charlotte Knights on Sunday afternoon at Knights Stadium in the second game of the four-game International League series between the teams.

The Herd didn’t put the game away, however, until they scored six runs after two were out in the eighth inning.

Sunday’s game was called because of a rainstorm with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a forecast calling for more precipitation until late Sunday night.

In his 10th game since he was promoted from New Hampshire of the Double-A Eastern League, Pillar continued to pound the ball. The former Cal State-Dominguez Hills outfielder is batting .395 for Buffalo. He set a modern-day club record with four doubles in a game at Gwinnett last Wednesday night. Sunday he was 4 for 6 with a double and two singles in addition to his home run to start the game.

Pillar has 17 hits in 43 at-bats since reporting to the Bisons. He scored three times Sunday, giving him 10 runs with Buffalo, and drove in a pair of runs to boost his RBI total to 10. Ten of his 18 hits for Buffalo have been for extra bases (eight doubles and two homers).

The Herd had only three hits in the six-run inning. The outburst began with a two-out walk to Mike McCoy, one of four free passes the Bisons received in the inning from Charlotte relievers Santos Rodriguez and Daniel Webb before Tony Pena came on to get the final out.

Justin Germano (5-7), who was making his team-high 15th start for the Bisons, pitched 5∑ innings before he gave up two runs on two singles, a double and a walk in the sixth inning and was relieved by Tommy Hottovy, who got the final two outs.

The Bisons had 15 hits in the game and eight of the players in the batting order had at least one hit. All nine reached base at least once.

Buffalo (42-40) remained in third place in the North Division of the IL, a game and a half behind the third-place Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The Pawtucket Red Sox lead the North with a 50-32 mark. The Bisons are eight games behind the PawSox.

On Saturday night, the Bisons dropped a walk-off, 4-3 game to the Knights.

Thad Weber (3-1, 1.84) is the scheduled starter for the Bisons in tonight’s game (7:15 p.m., Radio 1520 AM) against Zach Stewart (4-9, 5.44) of the Knights.

The teams will complete their season series Tuesday night before the Herd heads back to Coca-Cola Field for the annual Fourth of July Eve game against the Rochester Red Wings (6:05 p.m.) and Buffalo Philharmonic to follow the game.