DURHAM, NC - The Gwinnett Braves' (21-21) late offensive spurt was not enough as they fell to the Durham Bulls (28-14) 5-3 in the finale of their four-game series on Sunday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Bulls swept the four-game series to send Gwinnett to its fifth straight loss.
Aaron Blair (L, 2-3) gave up five earned runs on nine hits while walking two and striking out one as Gwinnett fell behind 5-0, a deficit that ultimately proved too much for the G-Braves to overcome.
For the fourth straight game, the Bulls scored in the first inning, this time against Blair. Mallex Smith led off with a triple to right and then came home to score the game's first run on a sacrifice fly from Willy Adames. Later in the inning, the Bulls loaded the bases with one out and plated another run as Casey Gillaspie's sacrifice fly scored Jake Bauers. Michael McKenry looked to add to the lead with a deep fly ball to left, but Gwinnett left fielder Dustin Peterson made a leaping catch at the left field fence to end the inning and prevent further damage.
Blair bounced back to retire the side in order in the second. In the third, the Bulls put a runner on third with one out but did not score as Blair induced a pop up from Patrick Leonard and a fly out from Shane Peterson to keep the deficit at two.
Early on, the two runs proved to be enough for Durham starter Brent Honeywell (W, 3-4). In the second, Xavier Avery singled for Gwinnett's first hit then stole second for his eighth stolen base of the year, but he did not score as Carlos Franco flew out to center to end the inning.
The Bulls increased their lead to 3-0 in the fourth as Johnny Field's double to right-center scored Gillaspie. In the fifth, Shane Peterson's infield single scored another run and Gillaspie grounded into a double play, scoring Peterson from third to give the Bulls a 5-0 lead after five.
In the sixth, the G-Braves began to cut into the deficit against Honeywell. Ozzie Albies reached on an error and Sean Kazmar Jr. followed with a double to extend his hitting streak to seven games. The next hitter, Mel Rojas Jr., broke his bat but still hit a single to shallow right field, scoring both Albies and Kazmar to cut the Durham lead to 5-2.
After Akeel Morris pitched a clean sixth, Gwinnett got a little closer in the seventh. Peterson led off with a single to right. Two batters later, David Freitas doubled inside the right field line, scoring Peterson all the way from first, trimming the Bulls' lead to 5-3.
Morris and David Peterson combined to work around a pair of base runners and pitch a clean bottom of the seventh and keep the deficit at two. Peterson returned to the mound in the eighth and retired the Bulls in order, as the score remained 5-3.
For Durham, reliever Austin Pruitt pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in relief of Honeywell to keep the Bulls ahead. In the ninth, Chih-Wei Hu retired the G-Braves in order to finish off the win and earn his first save of the season.
Seven different G-Braves recorded a hit in the loss. Adames, Bauers, and Leonard all recorded multi-hit games for the Bulls.
The G-Braves return to Coolray Field to start a seven-game homestand with a 7:05 p.m. matchup with the Buffalo Bisons, Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, on Tuesday night. Southpaw Sean Newcomb (2-2, 2.74) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett against Buffalo left-hander TJ House (4-3, 3.00). Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM "The Other Side of the River" beginning at 6:35 p.m.
Tuesday's game features "Two-for-Tuesday." All dugouts seats are two for the price of one. 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.