DURHAM, NC - The Gwinnett Braves outlasted the Durham Bulls 13-10 in a marathon contest that took four hours and forty four minutes to complete on Sunday night at the DBAP. In what looked to be a blow out Bulls win early on, the Braves came back from a 9-4 deficit in 11 innings to sweep the short two game series.
Jeff Niemann was hit often in his first rehab start with Durham, but the Bulls gave him an early 2-0 lead thanks to an RBI double from Henry Wrigley and the first of two RBI singles by Chris Gimenez. Durham would add a third run on Tim Beckham's 4th home run of the season, a solo blast that landed in the lawn beyond the centerfield wall. But, the Braves climbed right back into the game scoring runs off of Niemann in the bottom of the second and third to tie it at three all.
Julio Teheran went to work with the game tied at three in the third, but could not make in through the inning. The Bulls forced the 2011 IL Rookie of the Year out of the game after giving up seven runs in just 2.2 IP. Durham exploded for a four run fourth inning off of Teheran. After recording the first out of the inning, Teheran gave up four straight singles, including a 2-RBI base hit to Reid Brignac with the bases loaded. Beckham capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly, recording his second RBI of the night.
Niemann finished his first of at least two scheduled starts allowing 4 earned runs on 12 hits, striking out three and throwing 76 pitches. Matt Torra took over in the fifth and was in line for his team leading 12th win of the season before Frank De Los Santos blew a four run lead in the top of the eighth. The inning started off with a ground ball to Beckham at second, who couldn't handle it and committed the first Bulls error in 44 innings. Beckham's bobble would prove to be costly. Gwinnett slugger Stefan Gartrell stepped to the plate with two on and two out and with one swing of the bat tied the game at 10 all with his 20th homer of the year.
It then took until the top of the 11th inning for the Braves to break the tie. Atlanta's Triple-A affiliate scored three runs off of Josh Lueke (L, 2-5, 5.37), who suffered his second loss in as many days. In all, 46 men reached base and the two teams combined for 37 hits, 23 runs, 4 errors, 3 HR and used 12 pitchers in the longest Bulls game of the season. Every batter from both teams reached base at least once.
The Bulls continue their nine game homestand tomorrow against the first place Charlotte Knights. RHP Charlie Shirek (10-4, 3.53) is slated to start for Charlotte against LHP Cesar Ramos (4-4, 3.53). Game time is set for 7:05pm.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.