DURHAM, NC - The Charlotte Knights scored four runs in the top of the first inning on their way to a 7-2 rout of the Bulls Friday night. Durham has now lost four in a row after a six game winning streak.
Rehabbing Chicago White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza started things off with a bang, crushing a home run in the first at bat of the game. The first four Knights batters came home to score in the frame. Jim Paduch (L, 6-10, 5.65) could not find his control in the inning, allowing three hits and tossing three wild pitches.
Paduch allowed another run before he was replaced by Josh Lueke in the fifth. Lueke started off strong with a strikeout, but then served up a two run shot over the Blue Monster to Josh Phegley. Brandon Gomes contributed two perfect innings in the contest, striking out four batters.
Compounding things on Friday, the Bulls offense could not figure out Charlotte's Scott Carroll (W, 2-3, 4.74). Durham managed just four hits against the Knights starter, as Carroll tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just eight base runners.
Daniel Moskos replaced Carroll in the eighth, but could not keep the Charlotte shutout alive. The Bulls broke through for two runs after Moskos loaded the bases with one out. Tim Beckham, who led off the rally with a single, came home after a passed ball on Phegley. Leslie Anderson then sailed a fly ball to left field allowing Will Rhymes to score.
A bright spot for the Bulls was newcomer Kevin Kiermaier, who made his Triple-A debut on Friday. Kiermaier pinch hit for Jesus Feliciano in the bottom of the eighth and smacked the first pitch he saw up the middle for a single. The former Charlotte Stone Crab then showed why he was rated the best defensive outfielder in the Rays system entering the 2012 season. In the top of the 9th inning, Kiermaier chased down a ball and made a spectacular leaping catch into the centerfield wall to rob De Aza of his third hit of the game.
The Bulls play their final home game of the 2012 season tomorrow night against the IL South division champion Knights at 7:05pm. RHP Charlie Shirek (11-4, 3.71) gets the nod for the Knights against LHP Alex Torres (3-7, 7.96). The Bulls will celebrate with postgame fireworks.