DURHAM, NC - The Durham Bulls mounted a big rally in the seventh inning to tie their game against Gwinnett Sunday night, only to have the visiting Braves rally themselves for two runs in the ninth to hand the Bulls a 7-5 loss at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Durham entered the seventh frame with only two hits on the night and trailing Gwinnett 5-2, before the Bulls strung together four singles and walk to plate three runs and tie the game at 5-5. The score remained deadlocked until the top of the ninth, when the Braves got a 2-out, 2 RBI single from Mel Rojas Jr. to give them the 7-5 lead. The Bulls attempted one last rally of their own in the bottom of the ninth when Curt Casali singled to start the inning, but the comeback attempt stalled there with the tying run left at the plate.
The loss was the third straight for Durham, giving Gwinnett the series sweep just one week after the Bulls swept four games from the Braves to open the season. The two clubs are now tied for first place atop the South Division standings.
Both teams were able to get on the scoreboard in the first frame, as the Braves got RBI singles from Matt Tuiasosopo and Kyle Kubitza to take a 2-0 lead before the Bulls countered with a 2-run home run to deep right field off the bat of Jake Bauers to tie the score at 2-2. Gwinnett quickly came back to re-take the advantage in the top of the second, with an RBI triple by Ozzie Albies putting the road team ahead 3-2.
The Braves stretched their lead with a solo homer by Lane Adams in the top of the fourth and an RBI sacrifice fly from Albies in the top of the seventh to make the score 5-2. Durham came roaring back after the seventh inning stretch however, with an RBI single from Mike Marjama and a 2-RBI base knock by Granden Goetzman tying the contest once again at 5-5.
The Bulls' offense stalled out there though, with double plays ending both the seventh and eighth frames before Durham couldn't answer Gwinnett's ninth inning surge resulting in the 7-5 defeat.
Casali went 2-4 as the only Bull to finish with a multi-hit game, while Bauers ended the game 1-3 with his first home run of the season and two RBI.
Bulls starting pitcher Jake Faria took a no-decision on the night with four runs allowed on six hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts over 5.1 IP. Reliever Adam Kolarek (1-1) took the loss after giving up two runs on two hits without recording an out in the ninth inning. Gwinnett reliever Sam Freeman (1-1) picked up the win after tossing a shutout eighth frame.
The Bulls (7-4) have an off-day on Monday before beginning a week-long road trip on Tuesday with a three game series in Indianapolis. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:05 pm, with Chih-Wei Hu (1-0, 1.64) set to take on Drew Hutchison (0-1, 7.84).
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.