DURHAM, NC - The Durham Bulls rallied for three runs in the fifth inning on their way to a 5-3 victory over the Norfolk Tides on Saturday night. Durham collected their fifth straight victory, tying their season-high win streak.
Rehabbing Rays starter Jeff Niemann struggled in his second outing with the Bulls. Xavier Avery took the 6'9" righthander deep in the night's first at bat, giving the Tides a 1-0 lead five pitches into the game. Niemann found himself in trouble again in the top of the fourth inning. He allowed the first three batters to climb aboard before Luis Expositio stroked an RBI single to make it 2-0. The Tides added a third run on a Brandon Waring sacrifice fly. Avery then lined a ball off of Niemann, who picked it up and fired to first to retire the side, but the big righty would not come back into the game. He finished the night going 4.0 IP, allowing 3 earned runs on 5 hits, with 2 walks, 1 strikeout and a home run allowed.
Determined to get Niemann off the hook for a loss, the Bulls battled back. Zach Clark (L, 4-2, 2.17) gave up back-to-back one out walks in the third, setting the stage for Leslie Anderson. Durham's leading hitter smoked an RBI single to left center to put the Bulls on the board.
Ryan Reid (W, 5-2, 3.58) replaced Niemann in the fifth and put the Tides down in order. The Bulls bats rewarded him with a three spot in the second half of the inning. Cole Figueroa started the rally with a bloop double to left field. He moved to third on a single by Reid Brignac and came home on Jesus Feliciano's base hit. Sean Rodriguez, making his first start for the Bulls this season, hit a bases-clearing double down the left field line, giving Durham a 4-3 advantage. It was Rodriguez' first hit with the club since 9/6/09, in game also against the Norfolk Tides.
Reid was lifted after two scoreless frames and was relieved by Frank De Los Santos. Durham padded their lead with an insurance run in the seventh to make it a 5-3 game. After De Los Santos exited after two scoreless frames of his own, Dane De La Rosa entered to earn his 19th save of the year and his 4th in five nights.
The Bulls wrap up their five game series with the Tides tomorrow evening at 5:05pm. It will be a battle of lefties as LHP Dana Eveland (5-4, 2.54) takes on Durham's LHP Cesar Ramos (4-5, 4.18).