DURHAM, NC - The Gwinnett Braves (6-4) broke a 1-1 tie with six runs in the top of the fourth inning and defeated the Durham Bulls (7-3) by an 8-6 score on Saturday night in game two of the three-game series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Gwinnett has won five straight games since a 1-4 start and is 5-1 through six games on the seven-game road trip.
The G-Braves took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Ozzie Albies ripped the first pitch of the game from Durham starter Andrew Kittredge to left field for a double, extending his hitting streak to an International League-best nine games. Mel Rojas Jr. plated Albies with a two-out double to right-center.
Durham tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third. Granden Goetzman doubled off Gwinnett starting pitcher Andrew Albers and scored on a single to center by Jake Hager.
The top of the fourth proved to be the difference in the game as the G-Braves sent 10 men to the plate and scored six times.
Bulls' reliever Justin Marks walked Adam Brett Walker to begin the fourth, and after Walker stole second, Blake Lalli plated him with a double to center to put the G-Braves up 2-1. Following an infield single by Xavier Avery, Albies reached on a fielder's choice scoring Lalli from third for a 3-1 lead. A walk by Sean Kazmar Jr. and a single by Rojas loaded the bases. Durham opted for Jeff Ames out of the bullpen, and he walked Matt Tuiasosopo to force in a run. The next batter, Rio Ruiz, crushed a three-run double off the wall in left to raise the advantage to 7-1.
Durham got a run back in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Curt Casali off Rhiner Cruz, cutting the lead to 7-2. Avery (1) answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth off Neil Wagner to put Gwinnett ahead 8-2.
The Bulls made it close with four runs in the bottom of the ninth, including three on a home run from Willy Adames (1), but Kevin Chapman shut the door to preserve the 8-6 win.
In his first start with Gwinnett, Albers pitched 3.2 innings with two hits, one earned run, three walks and five strikeouts. Cruz (W, 1-0) went 2.0 innings with three hits, one unearned run, one walk and two strikeouts. David Peterson worked 1.1 innings with one hit and two strikeouts. Chapman allowed four runs on four hits and struck out three over the final 2.0 innings.
Kittredge, in a spot start for Durham, went 2.2 innings with five hits, one earned run and three strikeouts. Marks (L, 3-1) worked 1.0 inning with three hits, five earned runs, two walks and one strikeout. Ames, Wagner and Adam Kolarek combined to allow two runs over the final 5.1 innings.
Avery, Rojas and Tuiasosopo were each 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the G-Braves' attack. Ruiz was 1-for-4 with three RBIs. Albies had a 2-for-5 night with two runs scored, an RBI and his IL-leading fifth stolen base. He has a team-high five multi-hit games on his nine-game hitting streak.
For Durham, Casali was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Adames was 1-for-5 with three RBIs.
The G-Braves and Bulls conclude the three-game series on Sunday evening in Durham. Right-hander Aaron Blair (1-1, 7.88) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett against Durham right-hander Jake Faria (1-0, 3.86). First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 4:35 p.m.
Gwinnett returns home on Tuesday, April 18 with a 7:05 p.m. game vs. Rochester. 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.