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Bisons defeat PawSox in series finale, 8-1

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Bisons took care of business against the PawSox in a decisive 8-1 victory from Coca-Cola Field Thursday afternoon. Righty Jon Harris was great for the Herd in his Triple-A debut while the Buffalo bats manufactured plenty of runs.
With the win, the Bisons claimed the series victory after taking three of four games from the PawSox at home.
Harris got the starting nod for the Bisons and had an auspicious start to his Triple-A career. He is a former 29th overall selection by the Blue Jays in 2015 and is rated as the No. 10 pitching prospect in the organization.
Harris was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire and has pitched well for the Fisher Cats this season. He has six wins in 14 starts with New Hampshire and has recorded 55 strikeouts in 75.2 innings pitched.
"I didn't change anything with my routine," Harris said post game. "[I] just went out there and pitched the best I could and hopefully get enough innings to get these guys a W."
He tossed six innings in the outing while holding Pawtucket to just four hits and one run-- which was unearned. He struck out four batters without ceding a walk and kept the PawSox from barreling up pitches as he registered eight outs on the ground.
"I [made] a few adjustments," Harris commented. "Not mechanically, just to get a little more deception which allows not getting too many barrels hit off me, which allows for more ground balls, a lot of weak contact. It's nice to finally get a lot of ground balls instead of a lot of fly balls."
"He went out there and just executed his pitches," Herd manager Bobby Meacham said about Harris. "He was obviously ready to go from the very beginning and it was good to see a guy who throws the ball over the plate, pitches to contact. He was down in the zone… everything we talk about doing and he had a lot of success with it."
Buffalo batted through the order and broke the game open with a four-run fifth inning to back Harris' winning decision.
The Herd took advantage of a prime scoring opportunity in the fifth after getting two runners into scoring position and one out. Michael De La Cruz recorded his first hit playing in his first game of the season after being activated from the disabled list. He stroked a double into the right-center gap and wound up on third after tagging up on a fly ball. 
De La Cruz got caught between third base and home plate in a rundown on a ground ball hit back to PawSox starting pitcher Chandler Shepherd, but the catcher used an evasive maneuver to avoid the tag. De La Cruz scored one at-bat later when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. reached base on an error.
Anthony Alford continued to swing a hot stick. He dunked a two-RBI single to left field. After Shepherd was knocked out of the game, Richard Urena greeted reliever Josh A. Smith with a base knock to increase the lead to six runs.
"That was a great inning period," Meacham said. He [De La Cruz] started it out with the big double. I saw a lot of good things beyond just scoring four runs. We didn't strike out and we had two strikes on a lot of the guys and we put balls in play."  
Roemon Fields helped Buffalo tack on two more runs in the eighth on a single that scored Urena and Darnell Sweeney. Seven of the eight Bisons' runs were scored with two outs.
Rowdy Tellez showcased his power against the PawSox. He was the benefactor of the Bisons early two-run lead. Tellez got the Herd on the board on a two-run, opposite-field shot in the third-- his sixth long ball of the season. 
The Herd relievers protected the lead after Harris' exit. Al Alburquerque came in and struck out the side in the seventh. Then, Jose Fernandez retired the side in order in the eighth. Rhiner Cruzfaced the top of the Pawtucket order and shut them down to close out the game.
Buffalo's bullpen has been effective lately, especially in the final three games of the series against Pawtucket. 
"They [the relievers] are well rested," Meacham said. "It all starts with the starting pitching. It builds the team chemistry well because now the relievers got lots of rest and they looked great today." 
The Bisons will now face the Syracuse Chiefs on a three-game road trip before returning home for a home-and-home series as part of the Independence Eve celebration.