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Bisons split doubleheader to gain in wild-card race

MOOSIC, Pa. – The Buffalo Bisons kept their playoff hopes alive in a big way on Wednesday as they rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh inning to beat Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 6-5, in the first game of a doubleheader at PNC Field.

Buffalo lost the second game, 8-3. Bison right-hander Scott Copeland took the loss to fall to 2-1. Scranton jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then broke the game open with a four-run fourth.

With the doubleheader split, Buffalo (74-64) picks up a half-game on Pawtucket and Rochester in the wild-card playoff race. The PawSox (76-63) lost, 5-1, to Lehigh Valley. Rochester (74-65), also in the postseason hunt, lost to IL North leader Syracuse, 4-3. The PawSox, Red Wings and the Bisons all have five games left.

The Herd mounted their biggest come-from-behind win of the season using two home runs and a sacrifice fly in their final at-bat. Dan Johnson hit a rising line drive home run to right field to snap a 5-5 tie. Two batters earlier, Brett Wallace hit a three-run homer to center field to tie it. Buffalo scored its first run of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Cole Gillespie.

The home run was Johnson’s 18th and Wallace’s 17th in the IL. Wallace has been swinging a hot bat as he hit three home runs at Coca-Cola Field on Sunday in a 10-6 win over Pawtucket.

Reliever Bobby Korecky had a 1-2-3 seventh inning for his 21st save. He is now tied with Luis Garcia of Lehigh Valley for the International League lead. Buffalo starter Raul Valdes (5-5) pitched six innings for the win. He gave up two earned runs on six hits and fanned four.

Scranton looked poised for the win after plating five runs in the fifth inning to erase a 1-0 deficit. Three of the runs scored on an error when Scranton hitter Carmen Angelini sent a fly ball to the outfield. Bison center fielder Dalton Pompey misplayed the ball, allowing the runs to score.

In the nightcap, the Herd bats came alive in the fifth inning with three runs, but the momentum wouldn’t continue. Gillespie was the exception as he recorded three hits in four trips. The Bisons were held to eight hits collectively.

Copeland returned to the Bisons after one appearance with Double A New Hampshire. He gave up six runs, four earned over 4∏ innings. Hurting his cause were two Herd errors that led to two unearned runs. The three-game series concludes tonight (7 p.m., Radio 1520 AM) with the Herd sending Kendall Graveman (2-2, 1.36) to the mound against Chris Leroux (6-3, 3.67). Buffalo will then travel to Rochester for a two-game series on Friday and Saturday. The Bisons wrap up the regular season with a two-game stay in Syracuse (Sunday-Monday).

In other Herd news, A.J. Jimenez was activated off the disabled list. The catcher missed 23 games between Aug. 3 and 26 with an elbow injury.