The Bisons lost final game of a two-game set against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Saturday, falling 5-3 from PNC Field.
Starter Casey Lawrence struck out seven, retiring 14 consecutive hitters at one point, and Jio Mier went 3-4 with a two-run double, but the RailRiders' take their 11th-straight meeting with the Herd.
Buffalo has lost five straight games, 12 of its last 14 contests, and 20 of its last 24 road games. The club ends Saturday with a 66-76 record. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, meanwhile, improves to 89-52, with the team clinching the IL North division crown on Thursday.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Lawrence. With two runners on, Donovan Solano knocked a single into right centerfield, as Mason Williams scored, and Cesar Puello crossed the plate via a throwing error by Bisons' right fielder Domonic Brown. A sac-fly by Chris Parmelee made it 3-0. Puello added two more runs in the top of the second, plating a pair with a two-out single off Lawrence.
The Herd had two runners on in both the top of the first and top of the third against righty starter Brady Lail, but failed to score on either occasion. In the fourth, Buffalo entered the run column, thanks to a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre error, and a two-run double from Jio Mier. Andy Burns drove a ball to RailRiders' shortstop Pete Kozma with runners on the corners, who could not come up with the ball, allowing a run to score on the error. A batter later, Mier, the ninth hitter in the Bisons' lineup, plated a pair with a double to right field.
Lawrence retired 14 in a row following Puello's two-run single in the second, notching all seven of his strikeouts during this stretch. A walk to Kozma in the seventh ended the streak, but Bisons' backstop A.J. Jimenez received a fastball coming down and in on Jonathan Diaz, and fired on to second to nab Kozma in an attempted steal. Lawrence ended his evening with four hits, five runs and four earned runs allowed, as his record falls to 5-6 on the season.
Murphy Smith made his Bisons' debut in the bottom of the eighth, relieving Lawrence to face the top of the RailRiders' lineup. He stranded two runners on base in his inning of work, picking up his first Triple-A strikeout. Smith shined in 42 games with Double-A New Hampshire this season, owning a 1.50 ERA in 72.0 innings.
Aside from Mier's three-hit game, Matt Dominguez collected two hits, with Domonic Brown and A.J. Jimenez totaling the other two hits for the Herd.
Outside of the top of the fourth, Lail pitched effectively for the RailRiders, tossing three one-two-three innings during his start. He escaped a two-runners on spot in the seventh, getting Bisons' team MVP Jesus Montero to ground out, ending the threat. He finished with a line of 7.0 innings, seven hits, three runs, two of which were earned, and five strikeouts. His record improves to 7-6.
James Pazos relieved Lail in the top of the eighth, and made quick work of the Bisons five, six and seven hitters, striking out the side in order. Dietrich Ennis pitched a perfect ninth to end the Herd's night.
The Bisons now head to Pawtucket, RI to take on the Red Sox in the final two games of the regular season. Scott Copeland will take the mound for the final time on Sunday, with first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium.