Buchanan drives in late game-winnerBuzz manager Phil Roof has seen a lot of baseball in his days as a player and coach. So when he throws out a compliment like the one he did after Salt Lake's 4-3 victory over Las Vegas Sunday, something mighty special must have happened.
Brian Buchanan's patience at the plate paid off with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, when he singled in the game-winning run."That was as good of an AB (at-bat) as I've seen since I left the major leagues," Roof said. "He just battled and battled."
Facing a fresh pitcher in Will Cunnane, Buchanan patiently sought his opportunities at the plate. He wound up in a 2-2 count and fouled off six pitches, including a shot down the left-field line, before depositing an offering into shallow centerfield.
Cunnane "threw a lot of pitches I felt I could hit. I was just trying to stay back and make good contact," said Buchanan, who hit a solo homer in the sixth inning. "He left it up, and I was able to reach out and get it."
Buchanan followed Scott Stahoviak, who drove in two runs with a triple and single earlier in the game, after Salt Lake had loaded the bases. Stahoviak forced a full count before striking out. Though the swing-and-a-miss failed to provide a storybook finish, the first baseman's return to the line-up after missing three games with a lower back strain was pivotal for Salt Lake.
"If we're going to do anything this second half," Roof said of the veteran with three years of major league experience, "he's got to do it."
Stahoviak combined with Buchanan for four hits and all of Salt Lake's offense. The scores allowed the Buzz to overcome a horrendous third inning.
Salt Lake pitcher Travis Baptist, who was the American League starter in the Triple-A All-Star Game earlier this month, gave up three consecutive run-scoring extra-base hits as Las Vegas erased a 1-0 deficit. Dave Hajek's triple was followed by doubles from James Mouton and Eddie Williams to make it 3-1.
Prior to the outburst, Baptist extended the Buzz pitching staff's string of scoreless innings to eight. Shane Bowers, Kevin Ohme and Gus Gandarillas began blanking the Stars in Salt Lake's victory Saturday.
Though one streak ended, Baptist and reliever Jeff Harris teamed up to start another. The duo held Vegas scoreless over the final six innings.
"Travis pitched well. He just didn't make good pitches (in the third)," Roof said. "But then he settled down, and we got another good effort out of the bullpen."
Harris upped his record to 4-0 after facing just six batters in two innings.
The Buzz improve to 47-44, but remain 101/2 games behind Fresno in the PCL's Southern Division.
"Winning teams have to scratch out games like this," said Roof after his team's third consecutive victory. "Good pitching and good defense. Those are the things that make winning streaks."
The series concludes Monday night at 7, with Salt Lake LHP Mark Redman (5-2, 4.58 ERA) facing Las Vegas RHP Brad Kaufman (6-7, 5.99). The Buzz open a four-game homestand with Albuquerque Tuesday.
BEE LINES: The attendance was 6,759 . . . Monday's game is Autograph Night. Buzz players will be available from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. . . . Catcher Jeff Horn has missed the past two games because of the flu . . . Las Vegas is the top affiliate of the National League West-leading San Diego Padres . . . Overheard in the press box (a discussion between media members on the Twins' rumored move to Utah): "Why would Salt Lake want two Triple-A teams?"