Norfolk, VA --- Elih Villanueva allowed three hit over seven-plus innings to lead the Norfolk Tides past the Durham Bulls 3-1 on Tuesday night at Harbor Park.
Villanueva (W, 3-1) retired 16 straight from the second into the seventh inning as the first-place Tides (67-49) beat the Bulls (56-61) for the second straight night to push the defending South Division champs 11 1/2 games out of the lead with 27 to play.
Salt was rubbed in the wound in the eighth, when the Bulls collected two singles to lead off the eighth to knock Villanueva out of the game. But with Luke Maile smoked a grounder to Michael Almanzar at third, who tapped the bag for an out, made a perfect throw to second base while falling into foul territory for the second out, and Rey Navarro's throw to first tripled-up Maile for a triple play.
Tampa Bay Rays rehabbing lefty Drew Smyly (L, 0-2) labored through four innings on 94 pitches. Smyly allowed two runs in the first, an unearned run in the second before using 35 pitches to grind through a scoreless third inning. Smyly worked four frames, fanning five and walking two.
Scott Diamond relieved Smyly and pitched the final four innings, allowing three hits and no runs.
The lone Bulls hit in the first seven innings came in the first from Nick Franklin, who lined a 3-1 fastball from Villanueva down the right field line for a single.
Nick Franklin hit a solo homer in the ninth for the Bulls' only run.
The series continues after a venue shift, with the opener of two at the DBAP on Wednesday night with Matt Moore starting for Durham at 7:05 PM ET.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.