(bisons.com) - Nothing was going to stop the Buffalo Bisons offense.
They exploded for 15 hits Tuesday night, not allowing a blown seven-run lead deter them from gaining ground in the wild-card standings. All nine herd starters recorded a hit in a 12-8 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox before 8,527 at Coca-Cola Field to earn four-game series split.
"Hitting is contagious," said Ryan Goins, who went 3 for 4 with two RBIs. "... Everybody pitched in. You get guys on base and it's just situational hitting. Everybody swung a good bat so it was just a little bit of everything."
The Herd is now two games behind Norfolk for the lone wild-card spot in the International League, with the Red Sox in second, 1 ½ games clear of Buffalo.
Manager Marty Brown was pleased with the team's approach to at-bats, what he calls a plan, seeing pitches and having good selection with them.
"We had more purpose tonight," Brown said. "Guys did grind-out at-bats (Tuesday) and they really did have a purpose."
Getting out to a 7-0 lead, Buffalo did allow the PawSox to claw back into it. One embattled inning undid a promising start for Ricky Romero. The left-hander retired the first six batters of the game and allowed just one hit through three frames on 37 pitches.
But the fourth is when trouble found Romero, tossing 34 pitches while recording two outs. The Red Sox tagged Romero for seven runs on seven hits to tie the game, sending 11 to the plate in the frame, which saw Buddy Carlyle relieve Romero. Jeremy Hazelbaker's three-run home run provided the big blow, his first of two homers on the night.
The early forceful pitching by Romero, who finished with 71 pitches, 41 for strikes, and fanned a pair, is still seen as a positive. Now, Brown looks to send him out again in five days, ready to put the fourth inning behind.
"I thought Ricky had good stuff, he really did, through the first three innings," Brown said. "... It's about consistency and that's what he's trying to get accomplished is being consistent every time out. So (Tuesday), the first three inning, I thought we're breezing this, there's no way they're going to touch him and then all of a sudden the wheels come off. You just have to regroup."
By the end of the next half-inning, though, the Herd was back in control and didn't relinquish it.
Back-to-back RBI doubles by Kevin Pillar and Clint Robinson, his fourth double in the last two games, remedied the PawSox's big half-inning. Ryan Goins then got in on the action, singling home Robinson, furthering the lead to 10-7.
Robinson is 8 for 15 in the last four games after three hits, two of them doubles, three RBIs and three runs Tuesday. Being able to find a rhythm through playing every day, an opportunity that wasn't present during Robinson's first few weeks with Buffalo, has allowed the first baseman to get in a comfortable groove of late.
With Mauro Gomez on the disabled list, Robinson should have plenty of time to continue his attainment.
"The key is just flush out the bad at-bats and get up there and try and have good ones," Robinson said. "When the opportunities come up to where you can put up some runs and do some damage, you have to take advantage of them."
Carlyle shut the door on another Pawtucket rally. He was able to replicate Romero's dominance of the first three innings with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Aside from the fourth inning, the red Sox had just four hits.
"That was huge," Robinson said of Carlyle. "He came in and did was he was supposed to do. He went out and attacked hitters and was aggressive, had a good pace, didn't really let them get comfortable and came out there and gave us some great innings."
The offense didn't slow down after that, and it scored runs in five different innings. The Bisons also finished 9 for 21 with runners in scoring position a night after going 3 for 12 Monday.
Buffalo wasted no time taking and building on the lead. They scored in each of the first four innings, including four in the first. Pawtucket starter Keith Couch, who made his Triple-A debut, needed 45 pitches to get out of the frame, which turned out to be the only one he threw.
Every Bison had an at-bat in the inning that featured three hits, two walks and an error. Robinson, who went shot a two-run double to left-center to initiate the scoring and Luis Jimenez added an RBI double. Xander Bogaerts booted a ground ball to third with two-outs to grant the Herd an unearned run.
Anthony Gose, who was 2 for 5 with two RBIs and three runs, then welcomed reliever Jose Contreras to the game in the second with a two-run homer to right-center.
The Herd will have an off-day Wednesday before welcoming the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to town for a three-game series. A doubleheader is scheduled for Thursday, first game starting at 5:30 p.m., and the series finale will be Friday.