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Leblebijian, Grichuk homer Bisons to 7-3 win over Clippers


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Home runs by Jason Leblebijian and Randal Grichuk paced the Buffalo offense and strong relief pitching shut down the Clippers as the Herd stampeded to a 7-3 win on Wednesday night from Coca-Cola Field. 
The Buffalo bats got hot right from the start as the Bisons piloted a five-run first inning to put a crooked number up on the board early.
After the Bisons had already scored two runs in the first, Leblebijian gave the Bisons the commanding lead when he squared up an offering from Clippers' starter Matt Whitehouse-a three-run blast to right field.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.'s two-RBI single with the bases loaded brought home the first Bison runs. Prior to his at-bat, Tim Lopes and Anthony Alford had back-to-back singles to lead off the inning and Danny Jansen later walked, putting three runners on base in front of Gurriel Jr.
During the inning, the Herd batted through the order and stole three bases, two of which were on the double steal from Lopes and Alford. The other was on Gift Ngoepe's first stolen base of the season as he slid into second base safely.
"It's easier to play when you're ahead," manager Bobby Meacham said after the game. "Our record shows it and when we get ahead it's good news, especially when we get ahead in the first inning."
After the Clippers cut the lead to two in the fourth, the Bisons responded with two runs of their own in the fifth to negate the potential Columbus rally.
Randal Grichuk, who is rehabbing in Buffalo after suffering a right knee sprain, provided the Bisons with the boost as he lifted a pitch high over the left field wall for a two-run home run. The four-bagger extended the lead Bisons' lead to four.
The Herd put a hurting on Whitehouse. Despite striking out six times against the lefty, Buffalo collected seven runs on nine base hits in the first six innings of the game. Those were all the runs the Bisons needed in a winning effort Wednesday night.
The Bisons' offensive output enabled Herd starter Taylor Guerrieri to pitch with a comfortable enough lead to notch his first win of the season. The right-hander retired the first six Clippers he faced, but then ceded three runs the final three innings of his outing. Guerrieri left the game on a high note, inducing three consecutive outs in the fifth inning after walking the lead-off batter.
All three Columbus runs were scored by way of the long ball. Eric Stamet's two-run home run in the third and rehabbing outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall's solo shot in the fifth were the only two instances in which the Clippers scratched runs across the plate.
The Bisons bullpen was solid in relief behind Guerrieri as the combination of righty Connor Fisk and southpaw Tim Mayza held the Clippers scoreless.
In three innings of long relief, Fisk allowed three hits without issuing a free pass and Mayza only gave up one hit in his one inning of work in the ninth.

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