It only took the Buffalo Bisons six pitches to put three unanswered hits on Michael Bowden’s tab and usurp a 5-4 lead in the tenth inning Thursday night.
Fernando Martinez led off with a double to deep right-center, Nick Evans nudged a pinch-running Fernando Perez to third on a single and Jesus Feliciano finished Perez’s go-ahead journey on an impossible-to-retrieve single to shallow left.
With that, followed by an efficient defensive job in the bottom half, the visitors bucked two fun trends for the McCoy Stadium masses.
In the 5-4 loss, the PawSox missed an opportunity to claim their third walkoff win in as many games this young month of August. In addition, a la Jonathan Papelbon in the 2009 ALDS, Bowden saw a protracted five-game shutout streak snapped and suffered his first loss since June 5. He had saved eight games and won Monday’s 3-2 decision over Louisville in the interim.
More tellingly, though, Pawtucket spilled 1-0 and 4-1 leads in the losing effort.
Each of Pawtucket’s first two runs sandwiched Buffalo’s first tally and resulted from the same basic sequence of events. Lars Anderson drew a walk, hustled to third on a single by Drew Sutton and scored with the help of Hector Luna’s bat.
Luna grounded into a 6-4-3 double play with nobody out in the second, enough to distract the infield while Anderson ran home. Two innings later, Luna dropped a single into left center to send Sutton to third and score Anderson to renew the lead to 2-1.
In his five innings of work, PawSox starter Brandon Duckworth alternated between 1-2-3 innings and a couple of torch-juggling segments, yet the Bisons only mooched one run off of him while stranding four baserunners. A leadoff double by Joshua Satin and a pair of back-to-back walks loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth.
But save for a shallow RBI single by Feliciano, Buffalo inflicted no outstanding damage on Duckworth, who was nonetheless forked out after throwing 92 pitches in five innings.
Jed Lowrie fluffed Duckworth’s pillow in the bottom of the fifth. The rehabbing Boston shortstop thrust a double to deep right to score Nate Spears and Ronald Bermudez from the corners and augment the lead to 4-1.
The Bisons reloaded the bases at the expense of Clevelan Santeliz in the sixth. In turn, Ruben Tejada nailed a two-run single and Luis Figueroa sent Feliciano home from second on a base hit to draw a swift 4-4 knot.
In his first game back from yet another loan back from Boston, Sutton was ready when needed to make a key play from his defensive post at second base. When Duckworth faced a potential Buffalo outburst in the fourth, Sutton caught Tejada’s liner to hold everybody on base for the second out, then fielded a grounder along the infield/outfield borderline and threw out Raul Chavez to leave the bases loaded.
Bermudez put his wheels to abundantly productive use all around the diamond Thursday night. In the fifth, he motored from first to third by defiantly beating a solid throw by Bisons right fielder Fernando Martinez and subsequently scored.
Bermudez later stretched a leadoff single to shallow right field into a double to lead off the seventh. He also sent Iglesias to second with a sacrifice bunt in the ninth.
After Anderson led off the bottom of the tenth with a single and advanced to scoring position on Sutton’s sacrifice bunt, manager Arnie Beyeler made a prudent decision to insert Che-Hsuan Lin as a pinch-runner. Through no fault of the skipper’s own, Luna and Daniel Nava simply failed to get Lin home for the requisite equalizer.
Eight of the nine men to start in Pawtucket’s batting order played a noteworthy part in the offensive cause, whether that was by pushing fellow baserunners along, driving runs in or scoring runs themselves.
The odd man out: The once-otherworldly Ryan Lavarnway, who went 0-for-5. Lavarnway’s lowlights Thursday night included grounding into a double-play to delete Lowrie in the fourth, striking out swinging after initially holding a 3-0 advantage on pitcher Brian Sweeney and flying out in the ninth to strand Nate Spears and Jose Iglesias in scoring position.
In relief of Duckworth, Santeliz threw only 11 strikes and 12 balls while giving up three runs on three hits along with two walks in a mere 0.2 innings-pitched. Santeliz has now allowed at least one earned run (six total) in each of his last four relief endeavors. Within that same time frame, he has allowed a cumulative nine hits and walked eight other batters over 7.2 innings.
Skipper Tim Teufel was ejected by home plate umpire Art Thigpen in the fifth when he vehemently argued that Martinez had thrown Bermudez out at third base.
After hitting 2-for-3 with a single, double and walk, Lowrie gave way to Brent Dlugach at short to commence the top of the eighth. In his first at-bat in the ninth, Dlugach prolonged his recent strikeout hex by whiffing in his ninth straight game-played and for the 15th time overall in his last nine games.
Of the 10 pitchers to see action between both sides Thursday night, Pawtucket’s Tommy Hottovy and Buffalo’s Dale Thayer, who claimed the win, were the only two to not record a strikeout.
PawSox reliever Jeremy Kerht was placed on the seven-day disabled list Thursday with what is being billed a lower calf strain.