There was no bailing out Dylan Axelrod on Saturday.
Five days after the Knights rallied from seven runs down after Axelrod lasted just one inning in a start against Lehigh Valley for a one-run win, Kyle Drabek made sure Buffalo didn’t suffer a similar fate.
The former key piece in the Philadelphia Phillies acquisition of Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue jays in 2009 went six innings, struck out seven, and allowed two runs in an 8-2 loss for the Knights in front of a sellout crowd of 10,226 at BB&T BallPark.
The win for Drabek – who has twice battled back from Tommy John surgery – evened the four-game series at one game apiece and snapped a four-game skid for the Bisons (19-14).
On Saturday, Axelrod lasted four innings and allowed four runs on five hits. The right-hander uncharacteristically struggled with his command for the second game in a row, walking five, while striking out just two.
“It’s just one of those things,” said Knights catcher Josh Phegley of Axelrod’s struggles. “You want to work on stuff and get better and when you’re out of whack, you’ve got to try to find a way to get back. ... For a pitcher, it’s tough. He only gets an opportunity to prove that he’s fixed it once every five days.
“(Axelrod) doesn’t walk a lot guys, usually,” he continued. “But he wasn’t around the strike zone a lot tonight and I think that hurt him.”
Axelrod (1-4, 6.47) had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde outing, allowing two runs to Buffalo in the first inning, before sending them down in order in the second.
Phegley (2-for-4) did what he could to keep his pitcher in the game when he connected on his third home run of the Knights eight-game home stand to tie the game at 2 in the first.
In the third, Axelrod’s control issues returned. After walking the leadoff man for the second time in three innings, he allowed a two-run home run to Kevin Pillar, who went 3-for-4.
“After we tied it back up after the first inning, I knew that we were going to be in the game the whole way,” said Phegley. “I didn’t expect every inning of (Axelrod's) to go two runs, so I knew he was going to give us a chance to stay in the game, but their pitchers did a pretty good job.”
Playing in his second game since being reassigned to Charlotte, Jordan Danks knocked in a run with a single in the bottom of the eighth, but Ryan Rowland-Smith came on to toss a perfect ninth.
Note: On Saturday, the Chicago White Sox purchased the contract of Knights reliever and former Mets closer Frank Francisco. The 34-year-old appeared in six games for Charlotte and did not allow an earned run, striking out 12.
Intimidators: Saturday’s game at the Hagerstown Suns was postponed due to rain. Sunday’s doubleheader starts at 3:05 p.m.
Hickory 3, Augusta 0: Isiah Kiner-Falefa (single), Evan Van Hoosier (double) and Ronald Guzman (single) scored in the eighth for the host Crawdads.
E — Kawasaki, Murphy, Saladino. DP–Buffalo 2. LOB–Buffalo 12, Charlotte 5. 2B–Pillar 2, Johnson, Mitchell, Kawasaki, Mastroianni. HR—Pillar, Phegley, Tuiasosopo. SB–Mastroianni, Hernandez.
WP-Axelrod. T-3:16. A-10,226.
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