The first-place Durham Bulls were held to only five hits, but that was enough for a 3-2 win over the Louisville Bats on Wednesday night at the DBAP.
At Bark in the Park, the Bulls bats looked dog-tired in the early going as Durham was unable to muster a hit until the fourth inning. Durham still had plenty of scoring opportunities in the early innings as starter Bats Daniel Corcino (L, 3-10, 7.40) walked the bases loaded in the second and put two more on with free passes in the third.
Luckily for the Bulls, starter Merrill Kelly (W, 1-0, 2.92) kept Louisville in check, pitching 7 scoreless innings of five-hit ball in his second Triple-A start, earning his first Bulls win.
The Bulls finally broke through in the fourth on Cole Figueroa's single, his first of two hits on the evening. Jesus Flores added an RBI single later in the inning. Tim Beckham led off the fifth with a double up the third-base line, and Vince Belnome hit the first pitch he saw over the Blue Monster to give the Bulls a 3-0 lead.
That was all the Bulls would get, as the Bats bullpen shut the Bulls down over the final 3.2 innings, allowing 1 hit and striking out 7, including six straight at one point.
Durham reliever Jeff Beliveau allowed three straight hits to open the eighth and gave up two runs before Kirby Yates came on to pitch the final 1.2 for his seventh save.
There was ninth inning drama as Yates walked Josh Fellhauer, and speed merchant Billy Hamilton pinch ran. Hamilton has been kept off base in the first two games of the series, but he stole eight in four games against the Bulls in Louisville earlier this month.
Hamilton promptly stole second and third, moving to 46 steals on the season and 15 straight without being thrown out. Yates bounced back with two strikeouts and a fly ball to strand Hamilton 90 feet away from tying the game.
The Bats and Bulls conclude their four-game series and an eight-game homestand, Thursday at 7:05pm at the DBAP. RHP Matt Buschmann (1-0, 2.04) starts for the Bulls against Louisville's RHP Armando Galarraga (5-4, 3.06).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.