Lawrenceville, GA --- Merrill Kelly allowed one run over six innings to lead the Durham Bulls to their fourth straight win, defeating the Gwinnett Braves 4-3 on Saturday night.
Kelly (W, 2-0), sliding into the rotation to replace Erik Bedard, surrendered just a solo home run to Ernesto Mejia in becoming the first Bulls starter to pitch six innings.
The Bulls (7-3) took a 2-0 lead in the first against Gwinnett (4-5) starter Mitch Atkins. Cole Figueroa doubled on the second pitch of the game and was sacrificed to third. Atkins then walked the next three hitters, forcing Figueroa home after a walk to Jerry Sands. Atkins then uncorked a wild pitch to score Vince Belnome to make it 2-0.
In the third, the Bulls strung four consecutive two-out hits against Atkins to bump the lead to 4-0. Sands, Mike Fontenot and Mikie Mahtook all singled, with Mahtook bringing in Sands for a 3-0 advantage. Robby Price then bounced a double off of the right field warning track, then jumped over the wall.
Leading 4-0 in the fourth, Mejia hit his minor league leading sixth homer, but Kelly shut down the Braves offense the rest of his outing.
Juan Carlos Oviedo and Brad Boxberger each allowed a run in their respective innings as Gwinnett closed to 4-3.
In the ninth, Kirby Yates (S, 4) allowed a two-out single to Jose Constanza, but was saved when first baseman Vince Belnome reached across and speared a liner from Todd Cunningham.
The Bulls shoot for the three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon at 2:05 with Nathan Karns (0-1, 13.50) opposing Gavin Floyd (0-0, 5.06).