Coming into the final 2 games of the first half of the 2012 season, the Drillers bullpen had been 35-0 when leading the game in the ninth inning. That record became 35-2 on Tuesday night after Tulsa blew their second consecutive save in as many nights and fell to the NW Arkansas Naturals 5-4.
The Naturals scored first off of Tulsa starter Dan Houston with a solo home run by Carlo Testa in the fifth inning. Houston was able to bounce back after the one mistake to Testa and give the Drillers an opportunity to get back into the game.
They did just that in the top of the seventh after Corey Dickerson singled and scored on a Mike Mitchell double. Tulsa was able to take the lead in the very next inning off of reliever Brendan Lafferty. Josh Rutledge kick started the Drillers rally with a leadoff triple to deep center field. After a one-out intentional walk to Nolan Arenado, Kiel Roling sent a sacrifice fly to right that brought in Rutledge from third. A pair of back to back doubles by Dickerson and Kent Matthes accounted for 2 more Tulsa runs and made the score 4-1.
The lead was cut into in the bottom half of the seventh after Julio Rodriguez doubled to lead off the inning and then came into score on a Rey Navarro home run. The blast ended Houston's night on the mound and reduced the Drillers lead to 4-3.
Coty Woods came out of the bullpen to begin the ninth inning and attempt to lock down his 13th save of the year. Woods has been lights out this season but did not fare well on Tuesday night, blowing his first save of 2012. A leadoff double and steal of third base by Mario Lisson set the stage for the biggest play of the game. Nick Van Stratten laid down a safety squeeze bunt that Woods bobbled and could not make the play on, giving him an error and allowing Lisson to score and tie the ballgame.
The Naturals ended the game in the eleventh after Zach Simons walked the first two batters of the inning. Two outs later, Yem Prades singled to bring in Sharlon Schoop and end the game with the score of 5-4.
These two teams will meet again on Wednesday to begin the second half of the season at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Arkansas. The Drillers will send Parker Frazier (3-7, 3.81 ERA) to the mound to matchup with Felipe Paulino who will be making a rehab start from the Kansas City Royals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00PM.