DURHAM, NC - The Durham Bulls fell into a big whole early in Saturday night's game against Gwinnett and couldn't quite find a way to dig themselves out, as the Bulls rallied for four runs in the ninth before succumbing to an 8-6 loss to the Braves in front of 9,574 fans at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Bulls entered the final frame down 8-2, with Braves still riding the wave on a six-run fourth inning. The Durham lineup which had been held to two runs on six hits suddenly erupted in the inning however, as an RBI, fielder's choice groundout by Granden Goetzman and a three-run home run from Willy Adames suddenly had the home team back in the game. The Gwinnett bullpen settled down after the initial surge however, striking out the final two batters to end the game.
The Braves struck first in the contest, with doubles by Ozzie Albies and Mel Rojas Jr. in the top of the first giving the road team a 1-0 lead. Durham responded two frames later in the bottom of the third, as Goetzman doubled to right-center with one out before Jake Hager drove him home with an RBI base knock to center that tied the score at 1-1.
The deadlock wouldn't last long however as the Braves exploded in the fourth inning, with the visiting team sending 10 men to the plate and scoring six runs on four hits and three walks to take a 7-1 lead. The Bulls crept closer with an RBI single from Curt Casali in the sixth to cut the deficit 7-2, before Gwinnett plated their final tally on a solo homer by Xavier Avery in the eighth to push the score to 8-2.
Durham attempted their comeback in the bottom of the ninth with four runs scoring on three hits, but the home team rally came up short resulting in the 8-6 final score.
Adames led the Bulls' bats in the game with a 1-5 night including his first home run and three RBI, while both Casali and Gotta finished the contest 2-4.
Reliever Justin Marks (3-1) took the loss for Durham, with five runs allowed on three hits, two walks, and one strikeout. Gwinnett reliever Rhiner Cruz (1-0) earned the win after allowing one unearned run on three hits over his two innings out of the bullpen.
The Bulls (7-3) remain one game ahead of the Braves (6-4) in the South Division heading into Sunday evening's series finale, with RHP Jake Faria (1-0, 3.86) taking on RHP Aaron Blair (1-1, 7.88) at 5:05 pm.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.