DURHAM, NC - The first-place Durham Bulls returned home with a worn-out pitching staff, and it cost them in a 9-6 loss to the Norfolk Tides at the DBAP Wednesday night.
After tying the game at 6-6 in the seventh inning, Durham ran out of relief pitchers. The Bulls used five relievers in a bullpen game on Monday and another two relievers saw work on Tuesday night. When starter Mike Montgomery was knocked out of the game after recording just seven outs, the Durham bullpen was in trouble.
Montgomery gave up four hits and five walks in 2 1/3 innings, giving up a 4-1 Bulls lead with five earned runs. Newly signed right-hander Doug Mathis gave the Bulls 2 2/3 innings, and southpaw CJ Riefenhauser went two frames.
With the game tied in the eighth inning, backup catcher Mayo Acosta took the mound for his first professional pitching appearance.
Acosta (0-1) got off to a rocky start, throwing the first six pitches for balls and mixing in a balk. RF Henry Urrutia's RBI double put Norfolk (4-9) back on top, and Brett Wallace added a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 8-6.
Acosta found his footing and finished the game without incident. He recorded his first career strikeout, becoming the first Bulls pitcher of the night to retire Caleb Joseph. The Tides catcher had two singles, a double, and a walk, scoring one run and driving in another before Acosta got him swinging. Acosta retired five straight batters before Norfolk added another run with two outs in the ninth.
Brett Brach (2-0) earned the win in relief for Norfolk while Preston Guilmet picked up his first save with a perfect ninth inning.
Wilson Betemit finished 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs as he was the only player to record multiple hits for the Bulls (10-4), who saw their winning streak snapped at seven games. Durham jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning as the first four batters all reached base and scored, but the team could muster just two runs the rest of the way.
They squads finish the short two-game set on Thursday with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. RHP Merrill Kelly (2-0, 0.75) starts for the Bulls against LHP TJ McFarland (0-0, 1.00) for the Tides.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.