For much of Saturday night's game, it looked as if the Drillers would finally get back at the Springfield Cardinals, who eliminated them from the Texas League North Division Playoff Series last September. That was until Springfield went for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to turn a two-run deficit into a two-run advantage.
Jake Lemmerman plated Chris Swauger with a two-out single in the seventh to cut Tulsa's lead to one before first baseman Xavier Scruggs' two-run home run to deep left field gave Springfield the lead for good. The Cardinals added one more run in the seventh and shutdown Tulsa over the final two innings for a 5-3 victory over the Drillers at Hammons Field.
The Cardinals late-inning rally ruined a solid start for Dan Houston, who didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning. Houston, whose night ended just before Scruggs' home run, allowed three runs on five hits, striking out four and walking one in 6.2 innings of work.
Joe Gardner suffered his second loss of the season after taking over for Houston in the seventh.
Breaking a recent trend, the Drillers wasted no time getting on the board first in this one. Delta Cleary Jr. lined the game's first pitch into center field for a single, and Cristhian Adames followed by dropping down an excellent bunt to the left side, forcing an arrant thrown by third baseman Ruben Gotay. Cleary Jr. came all the way around from first to score on the error to put the Drillers on top. A batter later, Kyle Parker scored Adames, who had advanced to third on Gotay's throwing error, on an RBI single to center to give Tulsa a 2-0 lead after one.
The score remained 2-0 until Parker added to the Drillers advantage in the sixth, clubbing a home run to right field to leadoff the inning. The solo blast was Parker's sixth round-tripper of the season.
Springfield pushed across its first run in the bottom of the sixth, negating Parker's solo homer in the top half of the inning. With two outs, centerfielder Thomas Pham lined a single up the middle. He then advanced to second on a wild pitch, and came around to score on a double by Gotay to cut Tulsa's lead to two.
The Cardinals erupted for four runs an inning later to make the final 5-3.
Parker had another solid night at the plate going 2-4 with a homer and two runs batted in, while Adames went 3-4 in the contest.
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams, on rehab assignment, suited up for Springfield on Saturday. Adams is hitting an absurd .542 with 3 HR and 8 RBI in eight games with St. Louis this season. Houston didn't seem to notice, holding the 2012 Texas League MVP hitless in three plate appearances.
Sunday, the Drillers and Cardinals return to Hammons Field for game two of the four-game series. Tulsa will send Chad Bettis (2-1, 3.04 ERA) to the hill against Springfield's Scott McGregor (3-1, 2.86 ERA).
First pitch is scheduled for 6:39PM.
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