BATON ROUGE -- Junior right-hander Jared Bradford fired the first complete game of his LSU career on Saturday, limiting Tennessee to two runs and leading the Tigers to a 4-2 win in the second game of a Southeastern Conference series at Alex Box Stadium.
LSU improved to 24-19-1 overall and 9-10-1 in SEC play. Tennessee dropped to 24-19 overall and 7-11 in league play.
Bradford's gem forced the rubber game of the series at 1 p.m. Sunday. Sophomore left-hander Ryan Byrd (5-1, 4.20) will try to secure LSU's third straight series victory against freshman UT southpaw Jeff Lockwood (2-2, 1.86).
Live streaming video and audio of Game 3 are available to members of the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.
Bradford (8-2) delivered yet another brilliant outing Saturday as he scattered nine hits and two runs in nine innings of work. He struck out eight and walked none on 119 pitches.
"That's how you define a stopper," said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "He stops losing streaks. That's what aces do. That's what your most valuable pitcher is supposed to do. I felt like today was a must win."
Bradford is now tied for second in the SEC in wins, trailing only Arkansas' Nick Schmidt. However, he is the only hurler in the league to tally five saves with his victories, ranking second in that category as well.
Bradford tossed the second complete game by an LSU pitcher this season. Byrd threw the Tigers' other one in an 8-2 victory over No. 13 Ole Miss exactly two weeks ago.
"I've been coaching for 25 years, and he is quickly becoming one of my all-time greats," said Mainieri. "He's something. I've run out of superlatives to say about the kid. The only thing he lacks is an overpowering velocity fastball, but he's got every other intangible that you want out of a pitcher plus he's a wonderful human being."
The Tiger bats erupted on Saturday after being handcuffed by Tennessee ace James Adkins in a complete game effort on Friday night.
LSU pounded out seven hits through the first three innings against starter Craig Cobb. Cobb (6-4) worked two innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.
LSU shortstop Michael Hollander went 3-for-5 and scored two runs, and first baseman Sean Ochinko added two hits and drove in a run. Designated hitter Blake Dean homered for the second straight game -- a two-run shot in the third -- in a 2-for-4 effort.
Dean, who has homered in four of his last seven games, was replaced in Friday night's game after being hit in the mouth by a pitch. He showed no signs of an injury by sparking LSU's offense early.
"I took (Dean) out of the game last night because I didn't want to see anything else happen to him," said Mainieri. "He had to be a little shook up last night, but he wasn't shy at all. That kid's a winner too. He is to our offense what Bradford is to our pitching staff."
Ochinko put the Tigers in front 1-0 with an RBI double in the first after Hollander and third baseman Chris Jackson collected back-to-back singles.
Hollander then led off the third with a hit before Dean crushed his team-leading sixth homer of the year over the right field wall to give LSU a 3-0 advantage after three frames.
Bradford's only blemish came in the fourth when the Vols scored their only runs of the game. The first four batters of the inning singled, including two hits that did not leave the infield.
Lockwood, who finished 4-for-4 as the Vols’ DH, rolled an RBI single up the middle, scoring catcher Yan Gomes. Shortstop Danny Lima laid down a bunt single, and left fielder Shawn Griffin cut the deficit to 3-2 with a run-scoring hit.
Two runs would be all the Vols could muster against Bradford, who struck out the side in the sixth and worked perfect innings in the seventh and eighth.
Centerfielder Jared Mitchell plated the Tigers’ other run in the fourth after an error. For the second time in the game, Jackson and Hollander had consecutive singles. Two batters later, Lima misplayed Mitchell's groundball that caromed into left field and permitted Jackson to score from second.
Bradford pitched around two base runners with one out in the ninth. Griffin advanced the tying runs into scoring position on a groundout, but Bradford fanned pinch hitter Cody Brown on three pitches to end the game.
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LSU 4, Tennessee 2 (Apr 28, 2007 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Tennessee........... 000 200 000 - 2 9 1 (24-19, 7-11 SEC)
LSU.................... 102 100 00X - 4 10 1 (24-19-1, 9-10-1 SEC)
Pitchers: Tennessee - Craig Cobb; Nick Hernandez(3). LSU - Jared Bradford.
Win-Jared Bradford(8-2) Loss-Craig Cobb(6-4) T-2:31 A-7464
HR LSU - Blake Dean (6).
Actual attendance: 3,110
Cobb faced 4 batters in the 3rd.