The Tulsa Drillers successful road trip continued Sunday night in Springfield. After spotting the Cardinals an early one-run lead, the Drillers scored the final three runs of the game and posted a 3-1 win at Hammons Field.
The narrow victory improved Tulsa's record on its 8-game trip to Northwest Arkansas and Springfield to 5-1. Overall, the first-place Drillers have now won eight of their past nine games.
Their win against the Redbirds, combined with a loss by Arkansas, gives them a five-game lead over the second-place Travelers. Tulsa has eight games remaining in the half while Arkansas has nine. The magic number for the Drillers clinching the first-half title now stands at four.
In Sunday's game, Tyler Anderson was making his first appearance for Tulsa since May 23, after spending a period on the disabled list with a sore elbow. In the first inning, the Cards scored a run off Anderson to take an early lead. After the retiring the leadoff hitter, the lefthander loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a base hit. Chris Swauger plated the run with a base hit, but Anderson recovered with a strikeout and a ground out to end the threat.
Taylor Featherston got the Drillers even with two outs in the top of the third with a long home run that easily cleared the left field fence. It was the infielder's fourth home run of the season.
After the first inning, Anderson kept the Cards off the scoreboard over the next three innings before hitting his pitch limit. He worked four innings in his return, surrendering the one run on three hits and two walks. Anderson also recorded three strikeouts.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until the Drillers added a second run in the sixth, but it could have been more. Brian Humphries led off with a base hit that extended his hitting streak to 13 straight games. After Harold Riggins drew a walk, Tyler Massey singled into centerfield, but Riggins was tagged out on the play when both he and Humphries ended up at third base.
With runners at first and third, Springfield reliever Ryan Sherriff's pickoff attempt skipped past first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez, allowing Humphries to score the tie-breaking run.
Jayson Langfels drew a walk that put runners at first and second with only one out. Delta Cleary Jr. lined out to centerfield, and Massey, who thought the ball would drop for a hit, was doubled off second base on the play to end the inning, keeping the Drillers lead at 2-1.
The Cardinals missed a chance of their own in the bottom of the seventh when they loaded the bases with two outs against reliever Nelson Gonzalez. Kraig Sitton replaced Gonzalez and Matt Williams lined his second pitch right at second baseman Cristhian Adames for the final out of the inning.
The Drillers added an insurance run in the ninth inning when pinch-hitter Joey Wong drew a leadoff walk and scored on a two-out base hit by Ryan Casteel.
Scott Oberg set the Cardinals down in order in the ninth to collect his 15th save in 15 opportunities this season.
Nelson Gonzalez allowed only one hit in 2.2 scoreless innings to record the win and improve his record to 3-2.
Marco Gonzales, a first round draft pick of St. Louis in 2013, worked the first 5.1 innings for Springfield, Gonzalez, whose dad is a coach in the Colorado Rockies' farm system, surrendered seven hits and two runs while striking out seven. The loss dropped his record to 1-2.
Tulsa and Springfield will play the third game of their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. Monday night at Hammons Field. Richard Castillo (2-3, 4.35 ERA) will take the mound for the Drillers, while St. Louis Cardinals lefthander Tyler Lyons is expected to make an injury rehabilitation start for Springfield. Lyons is 0-3 with a 6.12 ERA in the majors this season.