"LSU was better than us this weekend, bottom line," Coach Tommy Slater said. "You get swept at home, they were just better than us this weekend. We didn't have very good starting pitching Friday night, but our bullpen did a good enough job to keep us in it and their bullpen did a good enough job to keep them in it. Yesterday I thought the game was very similar."
Auburn falls to 22-28, 9-15 in conference action and into 11th place in the SEC standings and two and a half games behind Mississippi State in the race for Hoover and the SEC Tournament. Starter Chris Dennis, who allowed two earned runs on seven hits in five innings of work on Sunday to get the loss, said following the game that this team just has to keep playing.
"We can only control the things we can control," Dennis said. "We're going to worry about our week this week and come out and get ready for Georgia next weekend. We're going to try to take it a game at a time. You can't really look at what other teams are doing and what you're doing."
"Today I thought Chris really battled for us," Slater added. "He pitched out of some jams. It probably wasn't a day that Chris would tell you he had his best stuff, but he showed his toughness and his character. He battled for us."
Early on it was a pitcher's duel between Dennis and Forrer as neither team could get on the scoreboard, but it wasn't because of chances for LSU as they pounded Auburn early and never could make it pay off with runs. That changed in the fifth inning as Dennis' good fortune finally ran out. With one out in the inning Jarred Bogany led off with a blistering single to center field and Will Harris followed with a double to left that easily scored him with the game's first run.
Things didn't get any better as Bruce Sprowl got hit by a pitch from Dennis to bring Michael Hollander to the plate. Getting exactly what he wanted, Dennis watched as Justin Bristow booted a potential double play ball at short. The ball bounced into left field allowing Harris to score and Sprowl to advance to third. Wise followed with a RBI single to score the third run of the inning and give LSU the early advantage.
"I didn't feel very good today coming out, I don't know what it was," Dennis said. "My arm felt like it was a little worn down. I don't know if it was the weather affecting it because a lot of guys coming off surgery have that. You're going to have those days. I felt like I had to battle and give us a chance." Hitless through four innings against Forrer, Auburn finally got the offense going in the bottom of the fifth. Leading things off Andy Bennett singled and left fielder Jeff Boutwell followed with a triple to left center that scored Bennett to cut the lead to 3-1. A Russell Dixon single to right field followed to cut the lead to one, but that's as much as Auburn would get this inning as a one out bunt single by Bruce Edwards gave Auburn runners on first and third, but a Tyler Johnstone strikeout and ensuing batter's interference on a steal attempt brought the inning to a close with LSU up 3-2.
Russell Dixon was Auburn's most valuable offensive player on Sunday with a single for an RBI and two walks.
That's as close as Auburn would come on this day as LSU put the finishing touches on the victory in the top of the seventh. With reliever Andy Masten on in the sixth Auburn looked to be in good shape, but LSU changed all that as a two-out double by Hollander left two runners on. Deciding it was a crucial moment in the game Slater went with closer Luke Greinke to keep the lead at just one. Unfortunately for Auburn it wasn't to be on this day as Wise blasted a pitch deep over the left field wall for a three-run shot to put LSU up 6-2.
It was the first home run given up this season by Greinke and ended a streak of 11 innings by Auburn's bullpen this weekend without giving up an earned run to LSU. Auburn gave up two more runs in the eighth to make it eight runs on the day for LSU. On this day like the two others before it, Auburn's lack of production at the plate proved to be the biggest obstacle for the Tigers. Coming into the weekend LSU had a team ERA of 4.70 and had lost six of its last nine games. On this weekend though LSU's pitching was dominant as Auburn managed just eight runs in three games to be swept.
"Our bullpen has been great all year," Dennis said. "They've worked us out of many jams and won a ton of games for us this year. Coach (Matt) Myers told us they've had a one something ERA the last six games. Ahead 3-2 going to the bullpen with our offense getting hot, I thought we were going to win."
The loss drops Auburn to 11th in the SEC standings a 9-15 in league play while LSU improves to 11-13 and one half-game behind Mississippi State in the standings. At the top of the standings is Kentucky after the Wildcats swept Ole Miss to improve to 16-8. The Rebels drop to 13-11 and into a tie with Georgia and South Carolina after the Bulldogs swept the Gamecocks (13-11) this weekend. An Arkansas sweep of Alabama moves the Hogs to 14-10, just one game behind the Crimson Tide in the SEC standings.