The first-place Durham Bulls beat the Rochester Red Wings in a battle of division leaders, 7-3, in front of a paid crowd of 10,125 at the DBAP on Thursday. The win avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Wings and snapped a season-high four-game losing streak for the Bulls.
Durham scored first for the first time in the series, opening the game with three straight hits, including an RBI single by Tim Beckham.
In an encouraging sign for the Bulls, the top two hitters on the team snapped out of week-long slumps. Leslie Anderson is third in the IL with a .313 average, but it was down 13 points from his previous high after he hit .056 in the first five games of the homestand. Anderson hit a 1-1 pitch into the right field seats for a three-run homer to cap the first-inning rally.
The Bulls added three runs in the seventh, after Rochester had cut the lead to 4-2. Vince Belnome, who is fourth in the league with a .311 average, but entered the game hitting .154 on the homestand, hit an RBI double to cap a two-hit night. Shelley Duncan and Mike Fontenot added RBIs later in the inning.
Mike Montgomery (W, 7-5, 4.24) pitched 5 innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out 7. He has the last two wins for the Bulls starting rotation.
The win cut the Bulls' magic number to 14. Any combination of 14 Bulls wins and Norfolk losses will clinch the sixth IL South title in seven years for Durham.
The Bulls welcome the division rival Charlotte Knights to the DBAP for a three-game weekend series. RHP Merrill Kelly (6-2, 2.59) opens for the Bulls against Charlotte's RHP Jason Berken (9-11, 4.15) at 7:05pm on Friday.
Bulls game story brought to you by Strayer University, Bringing Home the Bulls in September.