Chris Gimenez' three-run walk off homer capped a four-run ninth inning rally, as the first-place Durham Bulls beat Charlotte 5-2 in Sunday's soggy homestand finale. Durham finished their longest homestand of the season with a 4-5 record.
Down 2-1 in their final at bat, the Bulls comeback began with a Leslie Anderson single and Shelley Duncan double off of Charlotte's Taylor Thompson (L, 1-1, 7.27). Kevin Kiermaier's sacrifice fly tied the game and brought up Gimenez with two on and two out. The Durham backstop slugged a no-doubter to left, just his second homer of the season, to end the game and give the Bulls a series victory over the Knights.
Early on, Charlotte's Zach Stewart looked to be in line for his sixth victory, as the righty was stellar in the rubber match of the three-game series between division rivals. He went 7.0 IP, allowing only two hits and an unearned run which came in the fourth.
Cole Figueroa singled to lead off that frame and advanced to third on two productive outs before Stewart threw wildly in an attempt to pickoff Anderson at first base. Figueroa scooted home easily to give Durham the game's first run.
Moderate rain then began to fall, but it never became heavy enough for the umpires to call for the tarp. Charlotte managed to knot the score in the drizzly sixth on a Steve Tolleson single.
J.D. Martin, who was denied his record 15th victory of the season, battled through the precipitation. The International League's wins leader allowed one earned run in 6.2 innings before being lifted in favor of Jeff Beliveau with two on and two out in the seventh. The Bulls lefty immediately surrendered an RBI single to Adam Heisler to give the Knights a 2-1 advantage that held until Durham's ninth inning comeback.
Steve Geltz (W, 4-3, 3.05) earned the victory in relief.
With the win, the Bulls' magic number drops to 11 games. Any combination of 11 Durham wins and Norfolk losses will clinch the IL South division title for the Bulls.
After an off day on Monday, the Bulls begin a seven-game road trip with a three-game series starting Tuesday at Gwinnett. Durham will send RHP Jake Odorizzi (8-5, 3.88) to the mound to oppose Braves RHP Kameron Loe (4-3, 3.21). First pitch from Coolray Field is slated for 6:05pm on Tuesday night.
Bulls game story brought to you by Strayer University, Bringing Home the Bulls in September.