Norfolk, VA --- Dariel Alvarez and Steve Clevenger homered to lead first place Norfolk past Durham 6-3 in the opener of an important home-and-home series for the last-place Bulls on Monday night at Harbor Park.
Alvarez drilled a first-pitch fastball from Bulls starter Bradin Hagens (L, 1-4) with two aboard in the first inning to launch the first-place Tides (66-49) to a 3-0 lead.
Durham (56-60) scored twice in the third against starter Chris Jones (W, 7-6) thanks to doubles by Ryan Brett and Leonardo Reginatto, followed by a looping RBI-single by Boog Powell, but 3-2 would be the closest the Bulls would get.
Hagens yielded to Dylan Floro in the sixth, who made his first relief appearance since September 4, 2012. Floro allowed two runs in his inning, with Jhan Marinez serving up Clevenger's homer in the eighth.
Trailing 5-2 in the eighth, the Bulls loaded the bases with one out against Pedro Beato, but only scored on a fielder's choice force out off the bat of Luke Maile.
With the defeat, the Bulls trail the Tides by 10 1/2 with 28 to play, and dropped 7 1/2 behind the wild-card leading Columbus Clippers.
The first half of the series concludes on Tuesday night at 7:05 PM ET with Drew Smyly (0-1, 10.80) making his third rehab start with the Bulls against Elih VIllanueva (2-1, 5.40).