Game 3 box score
Francisley Bueno's player page
Audio: Chris Richard's RBI double
Complete IL playoffs coverage
Don some Durham apparel
Richmond fell victim to corporate policy Thursday night and then Durham took care of the rest.
Braves starter Francisley Bueno was making short work of the Bulls, tossing a no-hitter through six innings, but was lifted prior to the seventh inning after reaching a predetermined pitch count. He could only watch as the Richmond bullpen imploded, allowing the Bulls to score three times in the seventh before holding on for 3-2 victory before 5,003 fans at The Diamond.
The victory puts the Bulls within one win of their third Governors' Cup title, which they can clinch with a victory in Game 4 on Friday night at The Diamond.
There is a firm rule in the Atlanta farm system that pitchers aren't allowed to throw more than 100 pitches in one outing. So despite the fact that he had not allowed a hit and had issued only one walk, Bueno's evening ended after his 99-pitch effort. Durham wasted no time taking advantage of his absence.
The no-hitter was gone two batters into the seventh and the lead followed shortly thereafter as reliever Buddy Hernandez (0-1) quickly found trouble. He hit Jason Pridie with his third pitch and Justin Ruggiano followed with a clean single to break up the no-hitter. Chris Richard then doubled to right field, scoring Pridie.
Zach Schreiber came on and seemed to restore order after retiring the next two batters, but Michel Hernandez gave the Bulls the lead with a two-run single to center.
"You know, it's been that way all year long, no exceptions," Richmond manager Dave Brundage said. "The pitch limit was at 100. He did his job. It was common sense. Everyone here would have loved to have seen him go back out there, but we're not going to put anyone in jeopardy."
While Durham starter Jae Seo (1-0) wasn't nearly as sharp as Bueno, he was more economical. Though he also finished with 99 pitches, he didn't reach that count until finishing the seventh. After allowing the Braves to grab a 2-0 lead, he retired the final eight batters he faced before tiring and turning the game over to the bullpen in the eighth. Seo scattered six hits and struck out six without walking a batter.
"We were getting no-hit for six innings, but Hernandez got a big hit and two RBIs," Seo said. "I'm just happy."
Durham manager Charlie Montoyo had empathy for Brundage, but couldn't help smiling at his team's good fortune.
"Bueno was really bueno," Montoyo said. "But I would have done the same thing with [Jeff] Niemann if he had a pitch count on him. I'm not going to hurt someone's arm. A pitch count is a pitch count. Ours is 110. Theirs is 100. That's great.
"Bueno did a heck of a job. We had no chance against him. But after he [Hernandez] hit Pridie, I figured, okay, here we go. In a game like this, a walk, an error, a hit batsman can get you going."
The Braves loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth against Durham relievers Jeff Ridgeway and Shawn Camp, but Camp struck out Larry Bigbie and got Doug Clark on a fielder's choice to end the threat. They threatened again in the ninth after Wes Timmons negotiated a one-out walk. Mike Rozema hit one to the warning track in right, but the wind knocked it down and Camp was able to record his second save of the playoffs.
While Bueno kept Durham off the board, the bottom of the order once again provided the offense for Richmond. Bueno's batterymate Iker Franco, hitting ninth, gave the Braves a 1-0 lead in the third by singling home Timmons, who had doubled to lead off the inning.
Rozema, the hero in Game 1 while hitting ninth, moved up to the eighth spot in the order to accommodate Franco, but was equally effective. He too contributed an RBI single, a fifth-inning grounder through the hole into right field that scored Timmons, who once again doubled off Seo.
"We had our chances," Brundage said. "It was a hard-fought game on both sides. That's the way championships are supposed to be won."
NOTES: Durham led the league in homers during the regular season and hit 10 in its opening-round sweep of Toledo, but has gone 27 innings without one in the finals. That, however, is not even close to its longest home-run drought of the season -- 44 innings in April. The Bulls also went 41 consecutive innings in July and 34 innings in August without a homer. ... RHP Kevin Barry will start Game 4 for Richmond. He lasted only three innings in his opening-round start against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks. He received a no-decision. ... International League president Randy Mobley said he hasn't decided whether or not fines would be handed down as a result of the seventh-inning get-together in Game 2. Both benches emptied after Richmond's Doug Clark singled and began jawing with Durham starter Jeff Niemann and first baseman Wes Bankston. Order was restored and no punches were thrown. Mobley left open the possibility that fines might be handed down depending on whether there was any more extra-curricular activity during the series. ... Timmons, Rozema and Franco combined to go five-for-11 with a walk and two RBIs in Game 3.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.