DURHAM, NC - The Durham Bulls (26-14) scored five times in the fourth inning to snap a 1-1 tie and hand the Gwinnett Braves (21-19) a 6-1 loss on Friday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Johnny Field's grand slam to left field opened a four-run lead for Durham, and Jake Hager went back-to-back with a solo home run to raise the lead to five runs. Both blasts came off right-hander Lucas Sims, who also allowed a game-tying leadoff homer to former teammate Mallex Smith in the bottom of the first inning.
Sims (L, 4-1) worked a season-low 3.1 innings, allowing six runs - five earned - on seven hits while walking two and striking out five.
The G-Braves took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Sean Kazmar Jr. reached on a one-out single, stole second base and scored on a two-out double from Lane Adams that dropped fair along the right-field line.
That lead was short-lived as Smith launched a solo homer to right field leading off the first.
Sims and Bulls' left-hander Blake Snell dueled for scoreless second and third innings before Durham's offense ignited in the fourth. Shane Peterson singled, Casey Gillaspie reached on a fielder's choice and Mike Marjama walked to load the bases ahead of Field's grand slam over the high wall in left. Hager then smoked a line-drive homer just inside the left-field foul pole.
Snell (W, 1-0) made the lead stand up as he worked 5.1 innings of one-run, seven-hit baseball. He walked two while striking out 12. Bulls' relievers Andrew Kittredge and Neil Wagner combined to strike out six more batters over 3.2 scoreless, two-hit innings. G-Braves' batters struck out a season-high 18 times on the night.
After Sims' exit, the Gwinnett bullpen was strong. Right-handers Akeel Morris, Joel De La Cruz and David Peterson combined to pitch 4.2 scoreless innings.
Kazmar Jr. went 3-for-5 with a stolen base and a run scored, and Adams went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI for Gwinnett. In his Gwinnett debut, James Loney went 1-for-4 at the plate.
For Durham, Field was 1-for-3 with his fourth homer of the year and a game-high four RBIs.
The G-Braves and Bulls play game three of the four-game series on Saturday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Matt Wisler (1-2, 4.35 ERA) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett, while Durham will counter with right-hander Jacob Faria (4-1, 3.92 ERA). Dave Lezotte has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:05 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.