LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - Entering Sunday night's contest, the Durham Bulls (56-35) had the top scoring offense in the International League, but they were held to just one run in the two-game series against the Gwinnett Braves (38-53). That one run was enough to beat the G-Braves on Sunday, however, as the Bulls earned a series split with a 1-0 win at Coolray Field.
Right-handers Merrill Kelly and Josh Lueke combined on the four-hit shutout four Durham. Kelly (W, 3-0) was on top of his game, mixing his fastball and changeup to baffle the Gwinnett hitters. In 7.0 innings, he allowed three hits, walked three and struck out two. Lueke (S, 11) followed with a 2.0-inning save, giving up one hit and striking out four.
Gwinnett Braves starter David Hale (L, 3-4) was the tough-luck loser, hurling a season-high 7.1 innings, scattering six hits and allowing one earned run. Hale worked his fourth-straight quality start despite the loss.
In the top of the eighth, Hale ran into trouble. After recording the first out of the inning, the right-hander hit Tim Beckham with a 1-2 pitch, putting the go-ahead run at first base. Back-to-back walks to Vince Belnome and Ryan Roberts loaded the bases with one out. Manager Randy Ready summoned left-hander reliever Joe Beimel to face left-handed hitting Leslie Anderson, ending Hale's night. Beimel would induce a weak fly to right-center, but Beckham came around to score on the sacrifice fly, giving the Bulls a 1-0 lead.
The G-Braves had a chance to tie it in the eighth, as Jose Constanza drew a one out walk, stole second base and advanced to third on a single by Todd Cunningham. With runners on the corners and one out, Brandon Boggs hit into an inning-ending double play to the shortstop Beckham.
Gwinnett was held to four hits on the night in their seventh shutout loss of the season. The club is now 7-7 in shutout decisions this year. Constanza went 1-for-3 with two stolen bases, while Joe Leonard had the lone extra-base hit of the night, a double in the fourth.
Mike Fontenot led the Bulls, going 3-for-4 on the night. Anderson drove in the game's lone run on 1-for-2 hitting.
The Gwinnett Braves return to action on Monday night at 6:05 PM as they open a four-game set with the Norfolk Tides. Right-hander Joe Bisenius (2-1, 5.87) will start for the G-Braves, as he will oppose Tides' left-hander Jake Pettit (3-1, 2.37). Listen to the game on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM with Tony Schiavone calling the play-by-play.
Monday night is "Kids Eat Free Night" at Coolray Field, with all kids (ages 12 and under) receiving a voucher good for a hot dog, bag of chips and small soda. For tickets, call the Coolray Field Box Office at (678) 277-0340 or visit gwinnettbraves.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.