Tulsa pitcher Eddie Butler has not enjoyed a great deal of good luck this season, winning only one of his seven starts despite owning a 3.45 ERA. In Wednesday afternoon's outing against Springfield at ONEOK Field, Butler left nothing to chance. The right-hander was outstanding, surrendering only six hits and one walk and did not give up a run in seven shutout innings. The result was an 8-1 victory for the Drillers, extending their season high winning streak to five straight games.
Butler carried a 1-4 record into the contest even though he had allowed more than three runs in only one outing this season. Of his four losses, three had come in games decided by 2-1 scores.
In Wednesday's victory, Butler needed only 83 pitches, 64 of which were strikes, to complete his seven innings. The win improved his misleading record to 2-4, while his ERA fell to 2.98.
The win moved the first-place Drillers 2.5 games in front of second-place Arkansas, who was rained out on Wednesday.
Butler's battery mate, Tom Murphy, staked him to an early lead when he opened the bottom of the second with his fifth home run of the year.
Tulsa added two more runs in the third. With runners at first and second and one out, Joey Wong hit a comebacker to pitcher Sam Gaviglio. The Cards' hurler may have had a chance to turn an inning-ending double play, but he elected to throw to third for a force out. Cristhian Adames dropped a base hit into right field that plated a run, and a wild pitch brought home another to up Tulsa's lead to 3-0.
The Drillers put the game away with a five-run sixth inning. The outburst started when Murphy drew a leadoff walk and Brian Humphries singled. Harold Riggins delivered his second homer in as many games when he hammered a pitch from Gaviglio over the wall in right-center field. It was the fifth home run of the season for the first baseman.
Jose Rivera prolonged the inning with a one-out double off reliever Logan Billbrough. Tyler Massey followed with a deep fly ball to left-center field. The ball dropped safely just short of the warning track, and when left fielder Mike O'Neill and centerfielder Rafael Ortega collided, Massey kept running, circling the bases and sliding safely into home with the first-ever inside-the-park homer at ONEOK Field.
The Cardinals avoided the shutout with a run in the ninth off Ryan Arrowood, who had worked a scoreless eighth inning. Ortega drew a walk from the reliever and scored on a double by Matt Williams.
For the third straight game, Tulsa's offensive collected nine hits. Wong and Rivera paced the attack with two hits each.
In the three games with Springfield, the Drillers are hitting an even .300 as a team and have scored 22 runs.
The two teams will play the final game of their four-game set Thursday night at ONEOK Field. Dan Winkler (5-1, 1.07 ERA), who leads the Texas League in all three major pitching categories, will work the finale for Tulsa, while Jonathan Cornelius (2-4, 5.35 ERA) will take the mound for Springfield. Starting time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.