DURHAM, NC - The Durham Bulls scored seven runs over the game's first three innings en route to a 10-0 victory over the Gwinnett Braves Saturday night at the DBAP, blasting three home runs to back a strong outing by Justin Marks.
Johnny Field got things going for the Bulls in the first, hitting a leadoff homer over the centerfield wall. Later in the frame Dayron Varona walked with the bases loaded to stake the home side to a 2-0 lead.
In the second Field scored on a fielder's choice, before Curt Casali lifted a three-run homer over the Blue Monster as the Bulls (53-62) extended their lead to six. Hank Conger then led off the third inning with a home run to left-center to make it a 7-0 contest.
All the while Marks (5-10) cruised for Durham, tossing 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven and allowing just three hits. The rehabbing John Gant (3-1) suffered the loss for the G-Braves, as he allowed two runs in just 1/3 of an inning as the righty exited the game after he became ill on the mound. Dana Eveland and Tyler Sturdevant combined for 2 1/3 frames of one-hit relief to preserve the Bulls' ninth shutout of 2016.
In the sixth Jake Goebbert's RBI triple made it an 8-0 lead for the home side, before Conger tallied a two-run triple of his own in the seventh frame to close the scoring.
Durham's 10-run outburst was its second-highest of the season, while seven of the nine starters tallied a hit. Field led the way with a 2-for-5, three-run night, and Conger and Goebbert each finished with two hits as well. Casali went 1-for-2 with three RBI and a pair of walks in his second game with Durham since he was optioned from Tampa Bay.
The win gives Durham a 1 ½ game lead over the G-Braves (51-63) in the IL South Division, with the teams squaring off seven more times over the season's final month.
The teams face off in the rubber match of the three-game set Sunday at 5:05 p.m. at the DBAP. RHP Jaime Schultz (5-4, 3.16) takes the hill for the Bulls opposite RHP Matt Wisler (0-1, 3.38) for the G-Braves.
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