Alabama 6, Auburn 2: Does it get better?

Garrett Cooper. Alabama vs Auburn, Thursday, March 28, 2013, in Auburn, AL - Lauren Barnard photo

An ugly home loss kicked off a weekend against Alabama that Auburn needs to win, setting a dark tone for what could follow.

Auburn fell to Alabama, 6-2, Thursday night in front of the largest crowd of the year at Plainsman Park.

Auburn (15-11, 0-7 SEC) head coach John Pawlowski started Conner Kendrick against the squad that the lefty pitcher dominated over six relief innings in Montgomery back in February. Kendrick couldn't replicate his form from that evening on this night, struggling at times, but getting no help from the gloves behind him. He gave up six runs in 5 1/3 innings but only two of those were earned. For the second game in a row, Auburn's defense helped produce a boatload of unearned runs for the Tigers' opponents.

Alabama (17-11, 6-1) broke the game open when, already ahead 1-0, the Crimson Tide used just two hits to complement two walks and two errors, scoring four runs in the fourth, none counting against Kendrick's ERA. A triple and single in the fifth rounded out Bama's offensive output for the game, putting the Tide up 6-0.

Crimson Tide starter Charley Sullivan (3-1) went eight innings, striking out seven Tigers and allowing just five hits and one run on the same number of pitches, 112, as Kendrick.

Blake Austin, who threw out the 30th base runner of his career on a Georgie Salem steal attempt in the eighth after hitting a solo home run in the seventh to put Auburn on the board. Patrick Savage singled home Damek Tomscha in the ninth as the Tigers attempted a bit of a fight back. Ryan Tella, however, struck out with the bases packed to end the game. The Tigers also missed chances early, with five left on the first three innings.

Reid Carter pitched the final 3 1/3 frames for Auburn, allowing no runs and two hits.

Lefty Michael O"Neal (4-2) will start Friday night for the Tigers, trying to continue a streak dating back to 2006 of the home side winning this series. Alabama will go with a lefty of their own, Jon Keller (3-2).

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