Tigers Hold Off Gator Comeback For Win

Auburn jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held off the Florida Gators for a 9-6 victory Friday night.

Gainesville, Fla.--Auburn scored seven runs in the second inning and used solid pitching from Brett Butts, Paul Burnside and Luke Greinke to break a six-game losing streak to Florida in a 9-6 victory Friday night. The win improves the Tigers to 19-22 overall and 7-9 in SEC play while Florida falls to 23-19, 5-11 in conference action.

Jumping out to an eight run lead on the homestanding Gators thanks to a huge second inning, Auburn held on for the victory behind a solid night on the mound and some timely hitting. In addition to earning his fifth save of the season Greinke also had a big night at the plate with three hits and two RBI. On the night the Tigers pounded out 15 hits and Coach Tommy Slater said it was just a huge game for his team to get another victory on the road in the SEC.

"I thought we had really good approaches at the plate from the first inning on," Slater said. "Our pitching did a really nice job too. Brett really did a nice job in the start, giving us five solid innings. Burnside, what can you say, he just continues to have great relief outings for us. Then Greinke was really good in the ninth, really good. We had outstanding pitching and I thought we swung the bats well tonight from the get go."

On the mound Butts earned his first SEC win after giving up just three earned runs in five innings. Burnside came on to pitch three scoreless innings and set the stage for Greinke in the ninth. Holding a three-run advantage Greinke gave up a single and then a walk with two outs and had to get reigning SEC Player of the Year Matt LaPorta for the final out of the game. Slater said that having Greinke on the mound gave him confidence the Tigers would get the victory.

"Greinke was good," Slater said. "I thought he made some quality pitches there all inning long. Credit some patience with a couple of their hitters. He made some really good pitches to Matt there and that's the reigning SEC Player of the Year. As usual Greinke was cool as a cucumber, nothing bothers him at all. He just goes out and performs."

Brett Butts improved his record to 3-5 on the season with the win Friday night.

Auburn didn't take long to get the offense going on a wet Friday night at McKeethan Stadium as Tyler Johnstone singled to open the game against Florida starter Bryan Ball. Following a lineout by Jeff Boutwell super freshman Mike Bianucci ripped a double into the gap that easily scored Johnstone with the game's first run.

Following a scoreless first by Butts the Tigers came back for more in the second. Leading things off Greinke singled to right field. Following a Russell Dixon fly ball for out number one, Justin Bristow executed the hit and run to perfection with a single to right that pushed Greinke around to third with still one out. That would bring Josh Stapleton to the plate. Quickly getting down 0-2 Stapleton appeared to swing and miss for strike three, but it was ruled a foul ball. That proved to be huge as Ball proceeded to walk Stapleton and load the bases for the top of the order.

Johnstone would start a huge rally for the Tigers with a single that scored two runs, but not before a wild pitch would score Greinke from third and move runners up to second and third. Now leading 4-0 Auburn was just getting started as Boutwell reached after being hit by a pitch. A single by Bianucci and a double by Andy Bennett followed to score two more for the Tigers. Following a pitching change Josh Donaldson popped up for the second out of the inning, but back-to-back singles by Greinke and Dixon finished off the scoring with Auburn holding a commanding 8-0 lead heading to the bottom of the second.

That's when the Gators would start the comeback against Butts. Leading off David Cash singled to left and, following a walk to Bryson Barber, scored moments later on a single by Brandon McArthur. Unfortunately for the Tigers that was just the start of the rally for Florida as Butts got the Gators out in the second, but would suffer more damage in the third thanks to shaky defense behind him.

With one out in the bottom of the third Brian Jeroloman singled to right field but was cut down on a fielder's choice off the bat of LaPorta. Sitting pretty with two outs and a runner on first, Butts was the victim of some hard luck as he gave up a single to Brian Leclerc and then got Chris Petrie to hit a ground ball to Bristow at short. Rushing his throw, Bristow threw the ball away at first allowing two runs to score and Petrie to move all the way to third. Cash then hit a slow grounder that Bristow misplayed allowing the run to score. The play was ruled a hit, but the damage was done and just like that Auburn's lead was down to four.

The lead got trimmed even more in the fourth as Florida reliever Josh Edmondson shut down the Tigers in the top of the inning. With one out in the inning McArthur received a walk from Butts to give the Gators some life. That's all that Gavin Dickey would need as he came up one batter later and deposited a pitch over the right field wall for his 10th home run of the season. The blast cut Auburn's lead back to 8-6 and gave the Florida faithful some reason to cheer once again.

Auburn got one of the runs back in the fifth as Dixon blasted a shot to right field wall for a solo home run. It was the fourth homer of the season for Dixon and pushed the Tigers' advantage back to three. Pitching would take over from that point forward as the duo of Burnside and Greinke would hold the Gators at bay the rest of the way to give Auburn the huge Friday night win on the road.

The two teams return to action Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. with Auburn's Evan Crawford (4-4, 3.86 ERA) on the mound against Florida ace Bryan Augenstein (7-3, 2.69). The game can be seen live on Fox Sports Net South.

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