DURHAM, NC - The Gwinnett Braves (21-18) scored five runs over the final four innings, but it wasn't enough to dig out of an 8-0 hole in an 8-5 loss to the Durham Bulls (25-14) on Thursday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Right-hander Patrick Weigel (L, 0-1), making his second career Triple-A start, allowed eight runs on seven hits and lasted just 1.0 inning. Home runs by Shane Peterson and former G-Brave Michael McKenry highlighted Durham's early onslaught.
The Bulls opened a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Johnny Field and Jake Bauers each singled, and Peterson drilled an opposite-field three-run home run to left. The ball appeared to clear the high blue wall but strike the fence below the yellow line. G-Braves' manager Damon Berryhill came out to debate the call with third base umpire Alex Tosi and was ejected for the first time this season.
McKenry's two-run blast to right-center opened a five-run second inning. Willy Adames added a two-run double in the frame, chasing Weigel with none out. Right-hander Luke Jackson replaced him and allowed an inherited runner to score on a groundout by Bauers, but got through the inning with no further damage done.
Jackson, left-hander Andrew Albers, right-hander Caleb Dirks and right-hander Rhiner Cruz combined on 7.0 scoreless, four-hit innings and 14 strikeouts in relief for Gwinnett.
Durham right-hander Yonny Chirinos (W, 4-0) tossed 5.0 scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the sixth. Sean Kazmar Jr. singled and Mel Rojas Jr. followed with a two-run homer to left-center field, cutting the deficit to 8-2.
In the eighth, Kazmar Jr. launched a solo homer off the roof of the restaurant above the left-field wall. The homer off Bulls' right-hander Chih-Wei Hu made it an 8-3 game.
Gwinnett scored twice more in the ninth against right-hander Yoel Espinal. David Freitas singled, Anthony Recker was hit by a pitch, and Kyle Kubitza singled to load the bases. Ozzie Albies grounded out to score Freitas, and Recker scored on a balk by Espinal. The G-Braves couldn't get the tying run to the plate, however, as Espinal retired Kazmar Jr. and Rojas Jr. to end the game.
Kazmar Jr. and Rojas Jr. each finished 3-for-5 with their fifth homers of the season (tied with Lane Adams for the team lead). Rojas Jr. plated his team-leading 25th and 26th RBIs.
For Durham, Peterson went 1-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs, and McKenry went 1-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs.
The G-Braves and Bulls play game two of the four-game series on Friday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Lucas Sims (4-0, 2.16 ERA) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett, while Durham will counter with left-hander Blake Snell (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Dave Lezotte has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:35 p.m.
The Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field on Tuesday, May 23 for a seven-game homestand. Game one of a three-game series vs. the Buffalo Bisons begins at 7:05 p.m. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.