Playing in his final rehab start before rejoining the Cincinnati Reds, Rolen launched a majestic three-run homer in his last at-bat with Louisville, the perfect sendoff and one of several highlights in an 11-5 victory over the Rochester Red Wings that snapped a four-game Bats losing streak.
Corky Miller also stroked a three-run homer off former Bats pitcher Matt Maloney and Mike Costanzo added a solo shot. Louisville (22-48) reached a season high in runs by scoring its 10th in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Costanzo.
Louisville's 13 hits off Rochester (31-37) were one shy of matching a season best, and the Bats were a sizzling 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Miller's four RBIs were a team best for the game and the season. Felix Perez notched his second three-hit game of the year and had two RBIs. Joey Gathright and Bill Rhinehart added two hits apiece.
Rolen played the second of a two-game rehab assignment with the Bats after being placed on the disabled list on May 12 with a strained left shoulder. The star third baseman is expected to resume his tenure with the Reds on Monday after going 2-for-6 in his two outings with the Bats.
Rolen's first two plate appearances Saturday were uneventful, resulting in a strikeout and a double play. The 37-year-old slugger finished his night with a bang, though, walloping a three-run shot over the berm in left center on his last swing. The ball soared an estimated 438 feet and pumped up Louisville's lead to 9-3. Rolen smacked two homers with the Reds before going on the DL.
Rolen played four innings and tallied three at-bats, a sure indicator that the Bats' offense was clicking. It was bittersweet in a way, coming against Maloney, the Bats' all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, games started and innings pitched.
There's probably nobody in minor league baseball that is more familiar with Maloney than Miller, and the Bats' veteran catcher put that knowledge to good use. The 36-year-old backstop jumped on the first pitch he saw from Maloney, sending a long three-run homer to the top of the berm in left center that highlighted a four-run second inning. The drive allowed Miller to move into sole possession of fourth place on the Bats' all-time career homer list with 43. It was his fourth round-tripper of the season and second in three games.
After Rochester cut its deficit to 4-3 with a three-run third off Louisville starter Tim Gustafson, Costanzo led off the bottom half with his fifth homer of the year, a solo shot to right center. After Rolen went deep an inning later, Maloney (0-3) wound up giving up nine runs, including eight earned, on eight hits in 3.2 innings.
Gustafson, on the other hand, made the finest of his three starts this season. The 27-year-old right-hander pitched seven strong innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs - all in the third - while improving to 2-1. Gustafson, who was promoted to the Bats from Double-A Pensacola after Brett Tomko went on the disabled list, didn't allow a homer after giving up two apiece in his first two outings.
Louisville's previous season high in scoring was nine runs. Costanzo set a new mark by finding the hole on the right side for an RBI single in the sixth. Miller lifted a sacrifice fly in the seventh to increase the new benchmark.
Clete Thomas had a two-run homer for Rochester. J.R. Towles had two of the Red Wings' eight hits.
Liam Hendriks had been scheduled to start on the mound for Rochester, but he was called up by the Minnesota Twins. He was 5-0 with a 1.94 ERA in seven starts.
Rochester's Samuel Deduno (0-1, 3.15 ERA) and Louisville's Pedro Villarreal (2-3, 3.14) are the probable starters for Sunday's 6:05 p.m. matchup that concludes the four-game series. The Red Wings are leading 2-1.