DURHAM, NC - The Durham Bulls earned a split of the season opening four-game series with an 8-1 win over the Gwinnett Braves Sunday at the DBAP. The win brought the defending Governors' Cup champions back to .500 on the young season with a 2-2 record.
Left-hander Mike Montgomery (1-0) won his first start of the campaign, striking out seven over five innings of three-hit ball.
Montgomery ran into trouble in the fourth, loading the bases on an error and two walks, but he induced an inning-ending grounder. In the fifth, Gwinnett (2-2) threatened again with runners on first and second and just one away, but he struck out Derrick Mitchell and Joey Terdoslavich to escape the jam.
Wilson Betemit put the Bulls on top with a two-run homer in the first inning, his second of the season. Durham then broke the game open with a four-run eighth. Vince Belnome doubled in Betemit for his second RBI of the game, after he drove in a run in the third inning. Mikie Mahtook and Ali Solis added RBI singles, while Kevin Kiermaier drove in the inning's final run on a sacrifice fly as the Bulls sent eight batters to the plate.
Four of the nine Bulls hits went for extra bases, and Durham finished 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Gwinnett starter Mitch Atkins (0-1) gave up three runs in four innings for the loss. The Bulls victimized Luis Vasquez in their eighth-inning rally, giving them five runs in two innings against him for the series.
Bulls pitchers continued the record-setting strikeout pace of last year's staff. Brad Boxberger fanned four in two innings of relief as Durham pitchers combined for 12 Ks on the day. Kirby Yates entered with the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning and recorded the final four outs for the rare save in a seven-run decision.
The Bulls welcome Charlotte for the start of a four-game series on Monday at the DBAP. LHP Erik Bedard makes his Bulls debut against Knights LHP Charlie Leesman. First pitch set for 7:05 p.m.