DURHAM, N.C. - The first-place Durham Bulls extended their lead in the IL South to 7.0 games with a 5-3 win over the second-place Gwinnett Braves Thursday night at the DBAP.
The win, in front of 9,549 fans, gave the Bulls (48-41) a sweep of the short two-game homestand against Gwinnett (40-47) and produced their largest lead in the South since June 16.
For the second straight night, the Bulls erased an early one-run deficit with three in the second inning, highlighted by IL All-Star Wilson Betemit's double and Ray Olmedo's RBI single. All-Star Mikie Mahtook and Jeremy Moore added bases-loaded singles in the seventh to provide insurance to extend the lead to 5-2 after the G-Braves got a run back in the sixth.
Jeremy Hellickson (1-4) earned the first win of his MLB rehab stint with the team, striking out four over 5 2/3 innings and allowing two runs for his first victory as a Bull since July 24, 2010. All-Star Merrill Kelly and southpaw C.J. Riefenhauser combined for two innings of one-run relief before Josh Lueke recorded the final four outs for his second save, allowing an unearned run in the ninth.
Justin Christian continued his hot hitting for the Bulls, doubling twice off the left-field wall.
Gus Schlosser (4-4) took the loss, allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks over six innings of work.
The Bulls travel to Gwinnett for two games Friday and Saturday, with All-Star LHP Mike Montgomery (8-1, 3.28) getting the nod for Durham Friday against RHP Aaron Northcraft (0-1, 12.46) for Gwinnett. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.