LOUISVILLE, Ky. (IndyIndians.com) - After a late-inning power explosion that included four home runs over the seventh and eighth frames sent Monday night's contest into extra frames, first baseman Matt Hague came through with a two-run single in the bottom of the 14th, while four Tribe relievers shut out the Louisville Bats over the final 6.1 innings to give Indianapolis a 6-4 victory at Louisville Slugger Field.
SS Chase d'Arnaud began the game-winning rally in the top of the 14th with a double to left, before CF Gorkys Hernandez reached on a fielding error and stole second to force an intentional walk of the red hot Starling Marte. Then with the bases loaded Hague stepped to the plate and roped what turned out to be a game-winning two-run base knock to left, plating d'Arnaud and Gorkys Hernandez to give the game its 6-4 final.
The contest began as a pitcher's duel as the Indians, on the strength of a first inning RBI base knock from RF Starling Marte, led 1-0 heading into the seventh inning. Overshadowed by the extra-inning heroics, Tribe starter Justin Wilson (6.0 IP, 1 H. 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO) turned in yet another quality start allowing just a single hit over his six innings of work.
However, as the game moved into later innings, both offenses came alive combining for seven runs over the seventh and eighth frames.
The Indians began the late frame scoring when Hague lined a two-out two-run double scoring pinch-hitter Anderson Hernandez and Gorkys Hernandez, who reached on base hit and fielding error earlier in the frame. Hague's two-run two-bagger extended the Indianapolis lead to what looked at the time to be a commanding 3-0 margin.
Yet with Wilson out of the contest for the Indians, the Bats' bats came alive in a big way, beginning with a solo home run by 1B Neftali Soto with one out in the bottom of the seventh that cut the Indians advantage to 3-1. The power surge continued later in the frame when RF Bill Rhinehart evened the score with one swing of the bat launching a two-run longball to right field to plate LF Felix Perez, who had reached on a base hit following Soto's solo shot.
The Indians offense remained resilient taking back the lead with a power burst of their own in the top half of the eighth. With two outs, C Tony Sanchez would connect on his first career Triple-A home run, leaving the yard over the left-center field wall to give the Tribe back the lead at 4-3.
Louisville would, however, come through with a clutch response of their own in the bottom half of the eighth as CF Denis Phipps belted a two-out solo blast to left field for his fifth home run of the season to even the score at 4-4.
Following the late frame longball liftoff, the contest would head into extras, where in the top of the 12th the Tribe looked to be on their way to taking the lead. Marte led off the frame with his third hit of the night, a double to left, and after a fly out moved him over to third, 3B Yamaico Navarro stepped to plate looking the give the Indians the extra-frame advantage. Navarro would lift a fly ball to left field in an attempt to bring home Marte with a sacrifice fly, however Marte would be gunned down on a close play at the plate to send the game further into the night.
Following a late-frame breakdown the Indianapolis bullpen was brilliant as relievers Evan Meek (1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB), Duke Welker (2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 SO), Kris Johnson (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) and Tim Wood (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 SO) combined for 6.1 scoreless innings of relief. Johnson earned his fourth win of the season with his two scoreless innings of work, while Wood finished out the 14th to earn his 12th save.
After starter Pedro Villarreal (6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO) allowed three runs (one earned) over 6.1 innings, six Louisville relievers combined to allow just two earned runs over 7.2 innings pitched. RHP J.J. Hoover (2.0 IP, 3 SO) and LHP Donnie Joseph (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 SO) each tossed two scoreless frames in a losing effort.
Bats RHP Nick Christiani (1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO) took the loss after surrendering both Indians scores in the 14th frame.
With the victory the Indians (53-31) continue to roll as they have now won six straight overall and eight consecutive on the road. Indianapolis and Louisville will now wrap up the Louisville portion of the home-and-home series on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. with RHP Rick VandenHurk expected to take the hill for the Tribe and former Indians RHP Sean Gallagher scheduled to make the start for the Bats.
The game will be carried on WNDE 1260 AM-WFBQ-HD2, WNDE.com and via iheartradio, a mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones with Howard Kellman and Will Flemming on the call. The pre-game show begins at 6:45 p.m.