DURHAM, NC - A grand slam by Johnny Field highlighted a five-run fourth inning for the Durham Bulls Friday night, providing more than enough support for starting pitcher Blake Snell in the Bulls' 6-1 win over the visiting Gwinnett Braves at the DBAP.
In his first start of the year at the Triple-A level, Snell (1-0) earned the win after turning in 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run and striking out 12. The southpaw surrendered a run in the first inning, but went unscored upon the rest of his 108-pitch appearance in which he tossed 78 strikes.
After Gwinnett plated their lone run in the top of the first inning, Durham bounced right back in the bottom of the frame with the third leadoff homer of the season by Mallex Smith to tie the score at 1-1. The teams then traded scoreless frames until the fourth, when the Bulls exploded for a five-run inning.
With the bases loaded and one out, Field launched a grand slam over the Blue Monster to put Durham ahead 5-1. Jake Hager then made it back-to-back homers with a dinger to left, extending the home side's lead to five runs.
That was more than enough support for Snell and the Durham bullpen, as Andrew Kittredge and Neil Wagner combined to record the game's final 11 outs with six combined strikeouts. The 18 total Ks by the Bulls' pitchers set a new single-game high for the team this season. Righty Lucas Sims (4-1) suffered his first loss of the season for Gwinnett, surrendering six runs, five earned, on seven hits across 3 1/3 innings.
Field finished the night 1-3 with his first grand slam of the season, while Hager went 1-4 with his solo shot. The win improved the Bulls' record against the South Division to 14-7 on the year, while also extending their lead over the second place Braves to five games.
The four-game series continues Saturday night at 6:35 p.m., when RHP Jacob Faria (4-1, 3.92) takes the hill for the Bulls opposite RHP Matt Wisler (1-2, 4.35) for the G-Braves.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.