Lawrenceville, GA --- The Gwinett Braves scored nine runs in the first three innings and then held off the Durham Bulls to overtake sole possession of first place in the South thanks to a 12-7 victory on Friday night at Coolray Field.
Jesus Feliciano gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead in the second with a two-run double down the left field line, scoring Leslie Anderson (3-5) and Juan Miranda (1-5, 2B).
However, the Braves (6-3) scored three times against Bulls starter Chris Archer (L, 1-1) in the second, and chased him in the third with six additional to amass a 9-2 lead. In the second, Archer allowed a one-out single followed by three straight walks to force in a run. J.C. Boscan then hit a grounder to short, which was nearly turned into an inning-ending double play. However, Josh Wilson's slide into second base affected Shawn O'Malley's throw to first base, resulting in a bounce which wasn't caught, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
In the third, the first six Braves reached against Archer, including three via walks. Archer retired the next two hitters before a two-run double by Luis Durango to increase the lead to 9-2. Marquis Fleming entered to fan Jose Constanza to end the inning.
From there, the Bulls (5-4) were left playing catch-up. TIm Beckham (2-5, 2RBI) grounded a two-run, two-out single in the fifth against Braves starter Eric Junge to close the gap to 9-4.
Trailing 10-4 in the fifth, Miranda topped a groundball to third to bring home Matt Mangini (2-5, 2B, 2RBI) to trim the deficit to five.
After the Braves scored twice in the fifth against Fleming, the Bulls attempted a ninth inning rally against Jason Rice. Will Rhymes (2-4, 2R, W) walked, Beckham singled and Mangini doubled both runners home with one out. Anderson dumped a single to right-center, pushing Mangini to third before Miranda fanned and Feliciano lined out to end the game.
The Braves took a one-game lead in the South with the victory, which was their fifth straight.
Pitching shorthanded, the Bulls once again used backup catcher Craig Albernaz in relief. Albernaz allowed a single in the scoreless eighth after pitching a shutout frame on Thursday night.
The Bulls will shoot for their first win on their 14-game road trip Saturday night at 7:05 PM ET with Matt Torra (1-0, 4.76) starting against Yohan Flande (0-0, 0.00).