A five-run fifth and a four-run eighth inning led the Durham Bulls to their third straight win, a 10-2 victory over Buffalo at the DBAP on Wednesday night. The win keeps the Bulls locked in a first place tie with Norfolk, who also won.
Scheduled starting pitcher Alex Colome got called up to Tampa Bay earlier in the day, leading to a spot start from an unlikely candidate. Juan Sandoval, a 32-year-old right-hander signed in the offseason out of the Mexican League, was called up from Double-A Montgomery, where he had been the closer.
Sandoval made his first start since June 14, 2007, when he as with Tacoma of the PCL. Despite not pitching longer than 2 innings with Montgomery this year, Sandoval gave the Bulls a solid 3.2 innings, throwing 57 pitches, 17 more than his previous high this year. It was Sandoval's longest outing since going 4 innings on April 30, 2007, with Double-A West Tennessee.
Sandoval allowed just 2 hits and one walk, although one of the hits was a Ryan Goins drive to center field for an inside-the-park home run. CF Rich Thompson collided with the wall trying to catch it, and Goins rounded the bases as the ball rolled away. It was the first inside-the-parker allowed by Durham since Charlotte's Stefan Gartrell hit one on July 7, 2010.
Goins' hit tied the game, after Durham scored in the first inning for the third straight game, on a Thompson triple and Jason Bourgeois sacrifice fly. Buffalo scratched out a run on a squeeze play to take the lead in the fifth, but it did not last long with the Bulls' offensive explosion in the bottom half of the frame.
Mike Fontenot led off the inning with a double and scored on catcher Juan Apodaca's first triple since 2007. Thompson had an RBI single and Vince Belnome's 2-run double extended his team season-high hitting streak to 18 games. Wil Myers capped the scoring with an RBI double of his own. The Bulls added four runs in the eighth on a two-run homer by Shelley Duncan and a two-run double by Bourgeois.
The Bulls pen was solid in a committee effort backing up Sandoval. Adam Liberatore (W, 1-1, 3.22) picked up the win, while Cory Wade and Kirby Yates each turned in scoreless performances.
The series concludes at 7:05pm Thursday at the DBAP. RHP J.D. Martin (6-2, 3.65) starts for the Bulls against his old team. Two-time All-Star RHP Josh Johnson (0-0, 0.00) makes a rehab start for Buffalo.