Slam lifts Bats past Clippers

The Louisville Bats defeated the Clippers 4-1today in Huntington Park on the strength of a seventh-inning Chris Nelson grand slam.

Three Louisville pitchers combined to hold Columbus to seven hits. Jeff Francis (2-0) pitched the first six innings to earn the victory. Jumbo Diaz got the save.

The Clippers mounted a threat in the first inning against Francis. Justin Sellers singled with one out and wheeled around to third on Jesus Aguilar’s two-out double.Bats’ right-fielder Kristopher Negron then saved Francis two runs with a diving catch of a Carlos Moncrief’s bid for a double.

Francis struck out four over the next two innings before running into trouble again in the fourth. Moncrief lined a ball down the left-field line that nobody could catch this time for a double. With two outs, Bryan LaHair collected his first hit of the season to score Moncrief and give Columbus a 1-0 lead.

T.J. House (0-1) had allowed one hit through four innings for the Clippers. He had one out in the fifth when Louisville had its first chance at a rally. The Columbus defense rescued House.

Nelson lined a 3-0 pitch to right-center that hit near the top of the fence. Matt Carson fielded the ball and threw out Nelson at second base. Mike Wilson followed with a single. Negron threatened to tie the score with a drive to left that LaHair caught with a running back-handed spear to end the inning.

House opened the seventh by hitting Thomas Neal with a pitch. After Ruben Gotay singled, he walked Max Ramirez to load the bases. Scott Barnes relieved and Nelson greeted him with the bases-clearing home run to left.