DURHAM — The Durham Bulls failed to bring anyone home in the sixth inning, despite having the bases loaded with no outs.
It was a missed opportunity that couldn't be overcome as the Louisville Bats evened the opening best-of-five series in the Governor's Cup playoffs at one game apiece.
The 5-2 final marked only the third time in the International League teams' last 10 meetings in which the game was not decided by one run or in the final at-bat.
The Bulls will fly out today for Game 3 later tonight in Louisville, which is the site for all remaining games in the series.
"They shut us down after the first inning; that's the story of the game right there," Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Facing a 5-2 deficit in the sixth, the Bulls used a leadoff single by Joe Dillon and walks to Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez to load the bases with no outs.
It was at that point where Louisville starter Ben Jukich (10-6) was pulled after five innings and former Carolina Mudcat Enerio Del Rosario took to the mound.
The lefty got each of the next three batters to either fly out or ground out to end the Bulls' threat.
"It's unfortunate, but it's the way it goes sometimes. Sometimes it just doesn't work out that way," shortstop Elliot Johnson said. "We got some hits when there was nobody [on base], but you've got to give their pitching staff credit for buckling down when they did."
Del Rosario stayed in for the Bats for three innings and retired all nine batters he faced before giving way to Logan Ondrusek, who recorded the save.
"That guy came out of the bullpen, and we couldn't score," Montoyo said.
In the first inning, the Bulls wasted no time taking the lead. A leadoff infield single by Desmond Jennings, followed by Rashad Eldridge's long-rolling bunt single gave the Bulls two on with no out.
Dillon brought Jennings home on a seeing-eye base hit to shallow left. Joyce followed by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. Although Eldridge scored from third, the chance for a big inning was lost.
Bulls starter Mitch Talbot (4-5) allowed only three baserunners in the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth.
He gave up four consecutive singles, including RBI hits to Danny Dorn and Chris Valaika, before being pulled for Calvin Medlock.
Having just come back from a couple of nagging injuries, Talbot was on a pitch count limit and wasn't going to see the fifth inning anyway.
"I felt really good, I felt strong. I hit my spots for the most part, but the fourth inning I left a couple pitches that had a little too much plate and they put them in play," Talbot said.
"I didn't even think about [the pitch count]. It's just like any other inning, you're going to go out and do anything you can to get the guys out."
Medlock, who entered with runners on first and third, hit the first batter he faced but was able to allow just one run to score on a sacrifice fly. As it was, left fielder Justin Ruggiano's one-hop throw nearly got the baserunner at the plate, but catcher John Jaso couldn't squeeze the ball off the bounce.
In the fifth, Medlock gave up three hits and two more runs.
Louisville's Todd Frazier drove in Juan Francisco, his former Mudcats teammate, with a single, and Valaika drove in his second run of the night on an infield single that third baseman Ray Olmedo couldn't handle on a barehand attempt.
Montoyo said Jason Cromer, a left-hander, will start Game 3 for the Bulls. Either Rayner Oliveros or Paul Phillips, whoever does not pitch in Game 3, will starting Game 4 on Saturday.