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Quick Hits: Scranton 3, Bisons 1

It was the first time Joe Smith was on the mound in a month.

The right-handed relief pitcher last pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays on June 14, throwing an inning of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Then he went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

Friday night was his first outing since that game and he was productive and felt good in his one inning of work for the Buffalo Bisons.

Smith pitched a scoreless eighth inning, giving up one hit with a strikeout. His fellow reliever on Major League rehab, J.P. Howell, didn't fare as well, giving up the winning run in the ninth as the Bisons fell to Scranton, 3-1, at Coca-Cola Field.

Smith was effective in his inning, throwing 11 pitches, seven for strikes.

"I felt good so that was a step in the right direction," Smith said. "I was kind of worried about throwing strikes so the first two pitches didn't go as planned but the rest of them felt better as the inning went on. Other than that, I felt good. I feel good. We'll just wait and see what tomorrow brings and how I feel and go from there.

"My velo was probably two ticks down but first time off the mound since June 14 it's probably to be expected. It's just one of those things as a pitcher you've got to build your strength back up."

Rehab Part 2: Howell made his third appearance with the Bisons on his MLB rehab assignment for shoulder tightness.

In a 1-1 game, Howell gave up three hits and a walk, including a bases-loaded single to Abiatal Avelino, who beat out the throw from shortstop Gregorio Petit to score what would be the winning run. That hit prompted Howell's exit and tagged him with the loss.

He finished by giving up two runs, but only one was earned as the RailRiders scored a second run with reliever Murphy Smith on the mound when catcher Mike Ohlman was charged with a passed ball.

In all, Howell threw 22 pitches, 13 for strikes, while facing six batters.

Struggling at the plate: The Bisons continue to struggle offensively. They loaded the bases in the sixth with one out, but failed to score. Rowdy Tellez led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, and was stranded there.

Bisons batters struck out nine times – six of them by looking at a called third strike.

"To me the biggest disappointment is how many called third strikes we had. It's just not acceptable," Bisoms manager Bobby Meacham said. "We had a long talk about it already. It's just not acceptable. We're not good enough to say 'this ball was that far outside or that much up.' I mean, we get in that position because we're obviously not hitting pitches we should hit. We're fouling them off or taking them and then they're making good pitches with two strikes. That was the biggest disappointment for me tonight."

Woes continue: The Bisons have now lost 10 straight games to the RailRiders and fell to 39-54 overall.

Inauspicious start: Of the first three pitches Cesar Valdez threw Friday night, two were ground-rule doubles. Mason Williams led off the game knocking a ball to center field that bounced over the wall. Two batters later, Billy McKinney drove the first pitch he saw to right field, which again bounced over the wall, allowing Williams to score as Scranton took a 1-0 lead.

Getting even: The Bisons got the run back in the bottom of the first. Roemon Fields drew a lead-off walk and moved around the bases on ground outs from Petit and Michael Saunders. Then a double up the third-base line from Jason Leblebijian scored Fields and tied the game, 1-1.

Warnings issued: In the fourth, Valdez fielded a soft hit back to the mound by Cave. Instead of flipping the ball to first baseman Rowdy Tellez, Valdez sprinted to the bag to get the out himself. The players exchanged words, Scranton manager Al Pedrique had a discussion with the third-base umpire, and after that home plate ump Roberto Ortiz issued warnings to both benches. The dispute appeared to be over whether Valdez quick pitched Cave, delivering the ball before the batter was set in the box.

Attendance: The official paid attendance was 11,237 at Coca-Cola Field.

Up next: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Saturday with Chance Adams scheduled to start for the RailRiders. Adams is the eighth-ranked prospect in the New York Yankees organization. The teams close out the series at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

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