The Rochester Red Wings edged the Buffalo Bisons 3-2 Friday night, before a sellout crowd of 12,662 at Frontier Field - the largest crowd of the season. Pawtucket also won Friday, so the Wings remain just two games behind the PawSox for the wild card playoff spot with three games left in the regular season.
The Wings host the Bisons in the final regular season home game Saturday night.
Red Wings left-hander Sean Gilmartin has had difficulty in the first inning this season, allowing 11 hits and 11 earned runs over 13 first innings. On Friday, Gilmartin yielded a lead-off single to Dalton Pompey, and a hit and run single by Anthony Gose put runners at the corners with none out. The Wings got a break when Gose over-slid second base on a steal attempt, with an alert James Beresford applying the tag for the first out. Cole Gillespie's sacrifice fly brought home Pompey for an early 1-0 Bisons lead.
Gilmartin's mound opponent was Bisons lefty Sean Nolin, whom the Wings roughed up on August 19 for six runs in four innings - the only start this season in which Nolin has given up more than four runs. After retiring the first four Wings Friday, Nolin issued two straight walks. But a strikeout and a groundout helped Nolin escape the scoring bid.
The Wings jumped out in front in the bottom of the third inning. Chris Rahl picked up the Wings' first hit of the game with a single, and Eric Farris followed by drilling a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field for a 2-1 Red Wings lead. It was the third home run of the season for Farris, and his first since May 17.
Buffalo tied the game in the top of the fourth inning, on a two-out run-scoring single by A.J. Jimenez.
Gilmartin got the first out of the sixth inning, and that's when Wings manager Gene Glynn decided to bring in right-hander A.J. Achter. Gilmartin threw 84 pitches, 58 for strikes in his 5 1/3 innings, having allowed six hits and two earned runs; he struck out five and did not walk a batter.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Chris Colabello sliced a hit down the first base line, and ran hard trying for a double. The throw beat Colabello to second base, but Jonathan Diaz couldn't handle the throw cleanly and Colabello was able to slide in safely with a double. Nolin's wild pitch put Colabello at third base, then Nolin struck out Wilkin Ramirez. But Nolin uncorked another wild pitch with Beresford at bat, and Colabello scored to put the Wings ahead 3-2. Beresford beat out an infield single, prompting a pitching change with Rob Rasmussen taking over on the mound to get the final out of the inning.
Nolin tied his season-high with seven strikeouts in his 5 2/3 inning pitched, and gave up six hits, three earned runs and two walks.
Aaron Thompson relieved Achter with one out and the tying run at first in the eighth inning, after Achter had struck out a pair in 2+ relief innings. A fielder's choice put the speedy Gose at first with two outs, on a play where Gose just barely avoided being the back end of a double play. Gose stole second, then Thompson walked Gillespie to put two runners on with two outs. That ended Thompson's stint on the mound, with Stephen Pryor coming in to face Matt Hague. Gose moved to third on a wild pitch, but Hague was called out on strikes to end the threat - with both Hague and manager Gary Allenson ejected by home plate umpire Joey Amaral for arguing the call.
Lester Oliveros worked the ninth inning for the Wings, setting down the side in order - helped by Doug Bernier's catch on a line drive to end the game.