Bats' Lehr top-flight under the jets
Throws 7 shutout innings in 3-1 win
By Jason Frakes
With plenty of high-flying action in the sky yesterday, Louisville Bats pitchers grounded another opponent's offense.
Justin Lehr produced his second strong start in two tries this season and the Bats got all the runs they needed in the first inning of a 3-1 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox at Louisville Slugger Field.
Many of an announced sellout crowd of 13,131 stayed away on a cool and windy afternoon, but those who made it were entertained by the Thunder Over Louisville air show and another solid performance from Bats pitchers. Louisville (7-3) has allowed three runs seven times this season.
"We've only had a couple of starts that were maybe a little bit shaky, but overall our pitching has been solid," manager Rick Sweet said. "There's no doubt we're playing good baseball."
Especially Lehr, who had a perfect game through 71/3 innings and got the victory in his first start of the season Monday at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 30-year-old right-hander was nearly as good yesterday, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out five in seven scoreless innings.
Lehr threw 63 of his 89 pitches for strikes and now sports a minuscule 0.60 ERA.
"I'm usually pretty consistent with all four of my pitches," said Lehr, who has a cutter, curveball and splitter to go with his fastball. "I'd say the only difference right now is that there are a lot less pitches to hit. I'm locating my fastball and my off-speed stuff pretty well."
The Bats gave Lehr a quick cushion, scoring two runs in the first inning. Andy Green led off with a single, moved to second on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s sacrifice bunt and reached third on Jay Bruce's sharp single.
Jolbert Cabrera followed with an RBI single -- extending his hitting streak to eight games -- and David Ross' sacrifice fly to right brought home Bruce for a 2-0 lead.
"It's just having good at-bats, going in and having a good idea about what they want to do and executing," said Sweet, whose team scored five first-inning runs Friday in an 8-5 victory over Pawtucket.
Meanwhile, Lehr allowed just four baserunners through his first six innings, and three were punched out on the basepaths. Lehr picked off Joe Thurston at first base in the first inning, Keith Ginter was erased on a double play in the fifth and Jonathan Van Every was picked off first by Ross -- the catcher -- in the sixth.
Lehr, who had major league stints with Oakland in 2004 and Milwaukee in '05 and '06, allowed two hits and a walk in the seventh but was helped by another double play. He did it all while featuring a fastball that maxed out at 87 mph.
"Very few guys in the big leagues win (by overpowering hitters)," Sweet said. "They win by throwing good strikes with the pitches they have and mixing pitches to both sides of the plate. That's what he does."
Drew Anderson's home run to right gave the Bats a 3-0 lead in the eighth. Brandon Moss' RBI single with two out in the ninth brought the potential tying run to the plate for the Red Sox, but Jon Adkins got Ginter to fly out to right and picked up his first save.
Game 3 of the four-game series is 1:15 p.m. today. The Bats' Homer Bailey (1-1, 0.71 ERA) will face Chris Smith (0-0, 0.00).