(bisons.com) - It was a tough spot for the Buffalo Bisons.
On Tuesday, their scheduled starter, Thad Weber, was scratched from his start just over an hour before the first pitch. The Toronto Blue Jays placed Josh Johnson on the disabled list with a strained right forearm and will recall Weber on Wednesday as a result and need him fresh.
Buddy Carlyle was forced to make a sport start, replacing Weber in Buffalo's 13-4 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs at Coca-Cola Field, giving the Chiefs a 2-1 series win. Faced in such a situation, manager Marty Brown said his team should look at the game and leave it behind.
"That's what happens in Triple-A when you lose your starter an hour before the game," Brown said. "The difficult thing is we really don't have a long-man in our pen right now. Using (Bobby) Korecky yesterday (in the second game of a doubleheader) and coming back we really didn't want to use him again. Bullpen did what they were capable of today."
The loss of a starter was felt even more by the Herd with Weber being one of the most effective pitchers in the International League this season. Weber had been the best thing going on the mound for the Bisons, hurling into the seventh inning eight times in his last eight starts and owning a 2.64 earned run average.
Brown admitted the timing of losing Weber was unfortunate, but that he deserved to be promoted to the big club for the second time this season.
"That's what we're here for, it's Triple-A, and obviously there's a need at the major-league level with Josh Johnson going on the DL," Brown said. "Thad's ready, we wish him the best. Like I say, 'That's why it's called Triple-A.' You have to hopefully keep guys ready and available."
Carlyle, who pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief on Monday, allowed two runs - on a first-inning two-run homer by Tyler Moore - while striking out a pair over two innings. The Herd was able to get one of the runs back in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly by Clint Robinson.
But the Chiefs opened the game up in the fourth. They scored five runs in the inning, surprising considering Tommy Hottovy was on the mound. The left-hander had given up just three runs, one earned, in 13 innings pitched prior to Syracuse batting around the order, recording six hits against him.
Zach Walters hit a two-run shot to right-center before two quick outs were recorded. Syracuse responded with four two-out hits that led to three more runs and a six-run lead. Hottovy saw his ERA go from 0.69 to 3.60 in his two innings of work.
The Herd had 12 hits but struggled to manufacture runs, getting just two leadoff men on base. Andy LaRoche led the offense with three hits, including two doubles, an RBI, a run and a walk while Anthony Gose, Jim Negrych and Munenori Kawasaki all had two hits.
With an exhausted bullpen, infielder Mike McCoy made an appearance on the mound, pitching the ninth. It marked the first time a Bisons' position player pitched since catcher Jean-Luc Blaquiere hurled on June 5, 2012, in a 21-3 loss at Columbus. The last Herd position player to pitch at home was Trent Durrington, in 2007.
McCoy was one strike away from pitching a scoreless frame but Josh Johnson hit his first homer of the season, a three-run shot to right, on a 3-2 pitch. The three runs, all unearned, were the only ones given up by McCoy, who allowed two hits and a walk.
Help is on the way for the Herd bullpen, however. Brown said Kyle Drabek, the 25-year-old with 30 career starts for the Blue Jays in three years, will be available Wednesday on MLB injury rehab. He will back up another Jay on MLB rehab, Drew Hutchison, who will start his second game for the Herd Wednesday.
"He's been throwing real well in Double-A," Brown said of Drabek. "I had him before so I know what to expect. Even though he's coming off surgery it'll be nice to get him here. ... He's a bulldog."
By virtue of the defeat and wins by Norfolk and Pawtucket, the Bisons dropped out of the IL wild-card lead. The Tides and Red Sox are tied for the wild-card lead, a half-game ahead of Buffalo.
The Bisons still have their eyes on winning the IL North, too, trailing division-leading Rochester by 3 ½ games. And they will have an opportunity to cut into that edge over the next few days, as the Bisons take on the Red Wings in a three-game series at Coca-Cola Field starting Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.
"This is the time of year you work for all winter," Brown said. "When you're working out in the winter you think about being in a pennant race and in games that actually mean something at this time of year. It's fun to see the fans have that opportunity in Buffalo to go out and watch a close race and hopefully we can finish strong."