ALLENTOWN – It's been a rough go lately for Lehigh Valley. The IronPigs' recent road trip saw their division lead sawed to just one game as the Columbus Clippers and their International League best record rolled into Coca Cola Park.
As they have done all season, the team stepped up to the challenge.
After splitting the first two games of the series, Brian Bass and two relievers combined for a two-hit shutout Sunday to lead the IronPigs to a 4-0 win over the Clippers.
Bass threw 110 pitches through five and two-thirds innings. The outing was far from his best as he walked five while striking out just three.
"Bass wasn't great, but he didn't give up any runs and got us fairly deep in the game," interim manager Sal Rende said.
Les Walrond relieved Bass in the sixth inning and Justin DeFratus completed the shutout with his ninth inning contribution.
"I wanted to get that last guy out, but the pitch count was ridiculously high for six innings. [The bullpen] came in and did a good job like they've done all year," Bass said.
The offense has been struggling when Bass pitches, getting less than a run per game when he is on the mound. Last night, the Pigs broke through early to give him a rare lead.
Rich Thompson led off the Lehigh Valley first with a single and eventually scored on Pete Orr's ground out.
Josh Barfield led off the second inning with a solo homer over the left field wall and the Pigs staked Bass to a 2-0 lead.
Brandon Moss, who made a leaping catch at the wall to preserve the shutout, led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo homer to up the margin to 3-0.
"[The homer] was set up the previous at-bats," Moss said. "[Clipper starter Joe Martinez] was pitching me outside fastballs. I just said I'll try to drive one and see what happens."
IronPig catcher Dane Sardinah received a new shipment of bats. That made all the difference going 3-for-3 and raising average to .138. He is still without an RBI in 65 Triple-A at-bats this season.
"I love to see Dane contribute," said Rende, who is primarily the hitting coach, "this time of year its tough on catchers."
Pig Notes: Phillie starter Roy Oswalt will pitch for Lehigh Valley on Wednesday ... Pat Gillick, former Phillies GM and 2011 Hall-of-Fame Inductee will throw out the first pitch in Tuesday's game ... Last night's attendance was 9,612. The IronPigs lead all of minor league baseball in attendance averaging 9,227 fans.