DURHAM, NC -The Durham Bulls (47-41) brushed off a ninth inning rally by the Gwinnett Braves (40-46) and held on for a 5-3 win in game one of the series Wednesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
With the loss, Gwinnett falls to six games behind the front-running Durham Bulls in the International League South division.
Gwinnett got off to a great start, as Phil Gosselin (4), newly named to the IL mid-season All Star team, smacked an Alex Colome pitch over the wall in left center for a 1-0 lead.
But in the bottom of the first, Durham right fielder Justin Christian (6) tied the game with a deep homerun to left off of G-Braves starter Yunesky Maya, making it 1-1.
The Bulls took the lead in the bottom of the second. With two outs, Robbie Price reached first on a bunt single and scored on a double to left by Jason Nix, giving Durham their first lead of the game at 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulls put it out of reach. Christian stroked a one out single to left, Mike Fontenot followed with a single to right to put two on for Mikie Mahtook. The outfielder crushed his eighth homer of the season to give the Bulls a commanding 5-1 lead.
Gwinnett made a run in the top of the ninth against reliever Adam Liberatore. With Elmer Reyes batting and two outs, Nix dropped a pop foul in shallow right. The G-Braves capitalized on the error, scoring two runs on a two-run double by Brandon Boggs and bringing the potential tying run to the plate. However, Geltz struck out Ozzie Martinez to end the game and preserve the win.
Maya (L, 3-2) went 5.0 innings with nine hits, five earned runs, one walk and six strikeouts. The G-Braves got fine bullpen work once again from Ryan Buchter (1.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 K), Atahualpa Severino (1.0 IP, 2 K) and Carlos Fisher (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1K).
Colome (W, 4-1) pitched 7.0 innings with six hits and one earned run. He walked two and struck out six. Liberatore went 1.2 innings with two hits, two unearned runs and one strikeout. Geltz (S, 1) worked 0.1 of an inning with one hit and one strikeout.
Reyes led the G-Braves with a 2-for-4 night and one run. He now has four straight multi-hit games and has hit safely in all six games since being called up from Double-A Mississippi on June 28. Gosselin was 1-for-4 with a solo homer.
The Bulls were paced by Christian who was 3-for-3 with a single, double and homer. Price was also 3-for-3. Mahtook was 1-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs.
The G-Braves and Bulls play the finale of the short two-game series Thursday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. RHP Gus Schlosser (4-3, 4.31) will get the start for Gwinnett. Tampa Bay RHP Jeremy Hellickson (0-4, 9.00) is scheduled to make his fifth Major League rehab start for the Bulls. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Tony Schiavone will have the play by play call beginning at 6:50 p.m. on wdun.com, gwinnettbraves.com, Tune-In Radio and MiLB First Pitch