Senior reliever Zach Strecker gave up his first runs in 20 2/3 innings for Kentucky, a two-run single by Bryan Reynolds in the eighth, and Vanderbilt handed the Cats their first Southeastern Conference series loss of the season with a 3-2 comeback victory in Nashville.
The Commodores, who had won six consecutive series victories over UK, clinched their seventh by winning the first two games of this series. Game 3 is 2 p.m. Sunday.
Vanderbilt moved to 28-7 overall, 9-5 in the league, which is a game ahead of the Cats in the standings. Kentucky fell to 22-12 and 8-6.
Jason Delay’s solo homer gave the Commodores a 1-0 lead in the fifth. The Cats answered in the seventh to tie it at 1. Senior Dorian Hairston doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
Kentucky took a short-lived lead in the eighth, at 2-1, with the help of two Vandy errors and a hit batter. The Cats left the bases loaded, though, with two strikeouts ending their half of the inning.
The Commodores quickly responded with Tyler Campbell’s leadoff single and Connor Kaiser’s bunt single. Penn Murfee advanced the runners with a tough grounder to second and, after an intentional walk, Reynolds’ hit put Vandy in front. Ben Bowden closed for his seventh save with a flyout and two strikeouts.