Having had bragging rights for two weeks, Tuesday's slice of humble pie couldn't have tasted good to Kentucky's Wildcats. No. 8 Louisville came in front of a Cliff Hagan Stadium crowd of 3,589 and stomped the Cats 12-5.
The Cardinals (29-7) avenged a 5-4, 10-inning home-field loss to UK on April 2.
"Kentucky's a good team. And they came in two weeks ago and they showed that," said U of L's Jeff Gardner, who went 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs. "We put up a good fight. ... We just came out today focused and ready to get the job done here."
Gardner led the way as U of L outhit UK 15-8.
The 17th-ranked Cats (24-12) continued a tailspin that has seen them lose six of their last eight games.
Hitting — or lack thereof — continues to plague UK.
"I thought I saw a lot of it still. I don't think we've got that corrected," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "I think we've got a lot of work in front of us. I think I'd be lying to tell you that we got it fixed tonight. We didn't get anything fixed in that regard really."
Five Cardinals combined to strike out 15 Cats. The quintet also yielded 12 walks, but UK left 13 runners on base.
In the fifth and sixth innings, when Louisville pitchers walked six, UK scored one run and struck out six times. A scoreless seventh ran Kentucky's string of outs by fanning to nine in a row.
By then, most of the home crowd had left the park.
Backing up Gardner, U of L's Shane Crain was 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs.
"I thought the theme tonight was our offense," Cards Coach Dan McDonnell said. "I think (UK freshman starter Kyle) Cody is really good and I think he's going to get even better. I think that's a special pitcher there. ... Fortunately we put together a big inning, got our offense going. And sometimes when you get a good offense going, it's hard to slow them tonight. And tonight was all about our offense."
Kyle Barrett was Kentucky's bright spot on offense, going 3-for-4 with a walk.
Thanks to Barrett, UK actually took a 1-0 lead in the first.
He led off with a single, took second on a groundout and scored on A.J. Reed's two-out single to right.
Louisville tied in the second. Cole Sturgeon, hit by a pitch, scored from third on Crain's single.
Then, the Cards started pouring it on with a five-run, five-hit, nine at-bat third inning. Coco Johnson and Crain singled in one run each, Gardner doubled in two, and Zak Wasserman doubled in another.
After UK scored two in the bottom of the inning, U of L came back with a six-run, six-hit, 10 at-bat fifth inning to take a 12-3 lead.
Sturgeon led off with a double, and Gardner's two-run homer to right knocked out Cody.
"On the home run, I finally realized that he's coming in on me with two strikes, so I was sitting on that a little bit," Gardner said. "I came out of my usual approach a little bit, but it paid off in the end."
A third run scored when Nick Ratajczak lined a single off reliever Zach Strecker, who left the game with an apparent injury in the area of his glove hand.
Ty Young singled in a run, and two scored when Coco Johnson's pop behind second base was misplayed into a double.
UK's two runs in the third came on A.J. Reed's double. Barrett, who singled, and Max Kuhn, who drew his team-leading 29th walk, scored.
The Cats added a run in the fifth on four walks, the RBI going to Matt Reida.
Kentucky also scored a run in the ninth, the RBI coming on Jacob Russell's first career hit, a two-out single.
Kentucky at South Carolina
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Louisville at St. John's
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyHL. Blog: Markmaloney.bloginky.com.