The Tulsa Drillers took advantage of a rough outing by Noel Arguelles on Wednesday night at ONEOK Field to even their series with the NW Arkansas Naturals by the score of 6-4. Both teams started the game off as hot as the game time temperature (111 degrees) and combined to score in 7 of the first 8 half-innings.
The Naturals got out to an early lead in the very first inning thanks to a 2-out rally. Brian Fletcher singled and advanced to third when Kevin Kouzmanoff delivered a single of his own. A wild pitch by Josh Outman allowed Fletcher to score the game's first run. Two batters later, Paulo Orlando singled to drive in Kouzmanoff and put NW Arkansas up 2-0.
Tulsa answered back in the bottom half of the first after Mike Mitchell delivered a 1-out single and then stole second base. Ben Paulsen drove Mitchell home with a double down the right field line to cut the Naturals lead in half.
After Outman retired the side in order in the second, Tulsa brought out the big bats and took the lead thanks to 3 extra-base hits. Mike Zuanich belted his 4th homerun of the season onto the left field berm to tie the game at 2. Jose Gonzalez and Corey Dickerson followed up Zuanich's effort with back-to-back doubles over the centerfielder's head to make the score 3-2 in favor of Tulsa.
The back and forth affair continued in the top of the third as NW Arkansas scored again to tie the score. Kouzmanoff was the main contributor once again for the Naturals as he doubled for his second hit of the game. Manny Pina followed with a single and Orlando walked to load the bases. All-Star reserve Mario Lisson delivered a single of his own to drive in NW Arkansas' 3rd run and even the score.
The Drillers took the lead for good in the bottom of the third thanks to a couple gifts by Naturals starter Noel Arguelles. Nolan Arenado drove a ball over the left fielder's head to begin the frame with a double. Paulsen was drilled with a pitch in the next at-bat and then advanced along with Arenado when Arguelles threw a wild pitch to Angelys Nina. Tulsa's shortstop grounded out but was able to pick up his team leading 44th RBI of the season. Arguelles could not locate the strike zone after the Nina groundout and proceeded to walk three consecutive Drillers to bring in another run.
Yem Prades provided the only Naturals offense for the remainder of the evening when he homered to begin the top of the fourth.
Tulsa got the run back in their half of the fourth after Arenado singled and Mitchell advanced to third from first on a throwing error. A wild pitch by Arguelles brought home the final run of the game and made the score 6-4 in favor of the Drillers.
The Drillers bullpen came up huge with 3 different pitchers combining to shutout the Naturals after the 4th inning. Joe Gardner gave up only 3 hits in his 3 innings of work and earned his 5th win of the season. Mike Marbry and Josh Sullivan also contributed scoreless innings.
Outman's final pitching line was 4 innings, 8 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts.
The two teams will face off tomorrow in the final game of their 3 game set. Major Leaguer Jhoulys Chacin will make a rehab start for Tulsa against Michael Mariot (4-3, 3.26 ERA) for NW Arkansas. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05PM.