by Mike Potter
Tonight is Game 3 of a four-game set against the Louisville Bats, the Cincinnati Reds' affiliate which is in third place in the West Division. The teams have split their first two meetings, and will square off again in Mid-June at Louisville Slugger Field.
Merrill Kelly (4-1, 2.47) will square off with the Bats' Wang Chien-Ming (3-4, 4,79) on a cool spring evening.
The teams go toe-to-toe for 10 innings, but the Bats' Felix Perez wins it 4-3 with a triple in the extra frame.
The Bats get to Kelly for a pair in the first, as Ruben Gotay draws a one-out walk before Perez deposits a 2-2 pitch into the right-field stands.
The Bulls halve the lead in the fourth as Jayson Nix leads off with a single to left, advances on Mikie Mahtook's double
to right center and scores on Wilson Betemit's grounder to second.
And they tie it in the sixth, as Mahtook hits a one-out double to right center and scores on Betemit's single to right.
Kelly is pulled for an injury with one out in the seventh and the Bats threaten, as C.J. Riefenhauser gives up a single to Donald Lutz and walks two straight. But Jeff Beliveau gets a comebacker for a force out at the plate and then a strikeout to keep the score tied.
Louisville gets a go-ahead run in the ninth off Adam Liberatore. With one out, Thomas Neal and Tucker Barnhart hit back-to-back singles followed by Ryan LaMarre's bunt back to the mound. Kris Negron then scores Neal with a single to left.
The Bulls tie it off Jumbo Diaz in the bottom. Vince Belnome leads off with a double to left before Ray Olmedo draws a two-out walk and Lee Hak-Ju ties it with a single to right.
But Louisville gets the winner in the 10th. With one out, Gotay doubles down the left-field line, followed by Perez' triple past a diving Justin Christian in center.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: "It was a well-played game. Kelly was outstanding after giving up the two runs. Too bad he had a hand cramp. And Beliveau was big. It was good to see Lee get that hit because he's been struggling and got the line drive off that closer. ... Mahtook has been playing very well, hard. He's played all the outfield positions and he's swinging the bat."
Mahtook: "My first at-bat wasn't my best, but a couple of others I had got good pitches to hit and felt pretty good about. I feel pretty good about the way I'm hitting, but it's a long season and this is just a small sample size of it. There's always room for improvement and the most important thing is to win."
Lee: "I know (Diaz) throws hard, so I wanted to get something on the first pitch. I just wanted to score the run. I felt great about that tonight. My timing is still an issue after missing all of last season, but it's coming. I just have to stop thinking too much, but I'm not worried about that."
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Bulls: Lost 1.
Louisville: Won 1.
Louisville leads 2-1.
Durham (TBA) vs. Louisville (TBA), Tuesday, 1:05 p.m.