DURHAM, NC - It took 25 outs before the Durham Bulls collected their first hit against Norfolk on Thursday night, barely escaping getting no-hit for the second time this season. Three Tides pitchers combined for the one-hitter, which was a bobbled double play ball away from a hitless effort. Norfolk second baseman Ty Kelly could not handle a tailor made 4-6-3 grounder with one out in the 9th, which allowed Matt Mangini to single for the Bulls' only hit of the night in the very next at bat. Chris Archer struck out a career high 12 in the defeat.
Making just his third start of season, Norfolk's Miguel Gonzalez tossed five innings of no-hit ball, allowing only a walk to Mangini in the 4th. Gonzalez was relieved by the Orioles latest free agent acquisition JC Romero, who joined the Tides hours before the start of the game. Romero tossed a perfect sixth inning with two strikeouts. Eddie Gamboa followed with two more perfect innings. Jon Link entered the game in the bottom of the ninth to seal the second no-no against the Bulls this season.
Link walked Cole Figueroa to start the 9th, just the second Bulls base runner of the game at that point. Jeff Salazar popped to third base for the first out, bringing Jesus Feliciano to plate. Durham's center fielder hit a ball that should have been a game ending double play, but Kelly's error extended the game. Mangini then broke up the no hitter with a sharp single to right field, which loaded the bases. Leslie Anderson would roll into a double play that would extinguish any rally hopes.
Norfolk's Miguel Tejada was 2-4 on the night with an RBI. Joe Mahoney's 2 run triple in the 3rd gave the Tides some breathing room, and Lew Ford's solo homer in the 9th put the game out of reach at 4-0.
The Tides' near no-hitter masked Chris Archer's dominant performance. The Clayton, NC native Archer struck out a career high 12 batters, just one K shy of tying the Bulls single season mark. He threw 6.0 innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 runs that were all earned. He was pulled in favor of Ryan Reid after throwing 97 pitches.
The Bulls finish up their 10 game homestand with a 7:05pm contest against Norfolk tomorrow night. RHP Shane Dyer (0-1, 7.20) will make his second career start for the Bulls on Friday night. He takes on RHP Brad Bergesen (2-2, 5.03) for the Tides. After the game there will be Friday Night Fireworks.