DURHAM, N.C. - For the second straight night the Durham Bulls scored a one-run victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox, earning a 4-3 win Thursday night at the DBAP. The win gives the Bulls a 2-1 series lead in the Best-of-Five Governors' Cup Final and moves the squad within one win of its second straight International League Title.
Leading 4-2 in the top of the ninth, Durham turned to right-hander Josh Lueke to record the save. The reliever retired the first batter he faced, but Ryan Lavarnway reached on a passed ball on strike three a batter later. Garin Cecchini then ripped an RBI double into the right field corner, but Lueke induced a groundout and a pop out to strand Cecchini and earn his first save of the postseason.
The PawSox struck for the contest's first run in the top of the second inning on an RBI single by Corey Brown, and doubled their lead in the top of the third when a double play scored Deven Marrero.
In the bottom of the third the Bulls took the lead for good though, striking for a trio of runs. Justin Christian led off with a double, and advanced to third when Marrero, Pawtucket's shortstop, fielded Cole Figueroa's ground ball and failed to throw out Christian at third. Two batters later Jeremy Moore grounded an RBI single through the right side, before Tim Beckham delivered a two-run double to the right-center field gap for a 3-2 lead.
In the sixth Durham struck again when second baseman Nick Franklin launched a solo homer into the right field seats for a 4-2 advantage. Franklin, who is batting .417 in the postseason, finished the night 2-for-3 as he was the lone Bull to register a multi-hit night.
Right-hander Matt Andriese (2-0) earned the win with six solid innings of two run ball, walking none and striking out eight. Southpaw C.J. Riefenhauser tossed two shutout innings out of the bullpen before Lueke notched the save. With the three relief innings, the Durham bullpen has yet to allow an earned run in the Governors' Cup Final, spanning 17 2/3 innings. PawSox southpaw Henry Owens (0-1) took the loss, allowing three runs on three hits and three walks in four innings.
The win puts Durham in a position to win its fifth Governors' Cup in the past 13 seasons, and third since manager Charlie Montoyo took over prior to the 2007 season. With a win tomorrow night, Durham will clinch its first Governors' Cup championship at home since 2002, and become the first IL team to win the crown on its home field since the Richmond Braves defeated the Bulls in 2007.
The Best-of-Five Governors' Cup Final continues Friday night at the DBAP when the Bulls send LHP Mike Montgomery (10-5, 4.29; NR) to the hill opposite LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (NR; 3-1, 0.96 in Double-A) who will be making his Triple-A debut. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.