LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - The Gwinnett Braves (69-69) opened their final series of the 2017 season with a 5-2 loss to the Durham Bulls (84-54) on Friday night at Coolray Field.
After piling up 17 hits in a 13-3 rout of Norfolk on Thursday night, the G-Braves were held to just four hits on Friday. Durham right-hander Burch Smith tossed 5.2 scoreless, two-hit innings and four Bulls' relievers combined to allow two runs over the final 3.1 innings.
The Bulls took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning against G-Braves' starter Aaron Blair . Daniel Robertson led off with a single to right and scored on a double into the left-center gap by Willy Adames. A ground out by Jake Bauers moved Adames to third, and he scored with two outs on a wild pitch by Blair.
Blair loaded the bases on a single and two walks before exiting with two outs in the fifth inning. He was replaced by Evan Phillips , who struck out Adames swinging to end the frame. In his 25th and final start of the season, Blair (L, 7-9) pitched 4.2 innings with two runs on three hits, three walks and eight strikeouts.
Durham scored twice more against Phillips to extend the lead to 4-0. A two-out RBI triple to right by Shane Peterson plated Patrick Leonard in the sixth, and a two-out RBI single to right by Adames scored Mike McKenry in the seventh.
The G-Braves finally ended the shutout in the eighth, scoring two runs off left-hander Jose Alvarado to cut the deficit to 4-2. Matt Tuiasosopo and Kade Scivicque each singled, and a walk to Ronald Acuna loaded the bases. Sean Kazmar Jr. and Carlos Franco drew back-to-back two-out walks to force in two runs. Alvarado, however, recovered to get Micah Johnson to tap to the mound, and ended the inning with a force out at the plate.
The Bulls added a run in the ninth as Johnny Field doubled and scored on a throwing error by the catcher Scivicque.
Following Smith's scoreless start for Durham, Jeff Ames (H, 4) pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, Alvarado allowed two runs over two thirds of an inning, Jaime Schultz (H, 4) retired the only batter he faced and Andrew Kittredge (S, 2) struck out three in a perfect ninth.
For Gwinnett, Phillips yielded two runs on three hits over 2.1 innings, walked two and struck out three. David Peterson allowed a run on two hits and struck out one over the final 2.0 innings.
Offensively for the G-Braves, Scivicque went 1-for-2 with a run scored to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Johnson, Kubitza and Tuiasosopo each tallied one hit, and Kazmar and Franco each notched an RBI.
Adames led Durham, going 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.
The G-Braves and Bulls play a doubleheader on Saturday night at Coolray Field. First pitch of game one is set for 5:05 p.m., and both games are scheduled to last seven innings. Right-hander Kris Medlen (2-7, 5.85 ERA) will start game one for Gwinnett, while the game two starter has yet to be determined. Durham has not yet named starting pitchers for either game. Dave Lezotte will have the play-by-play call beginning at 4:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM "The Other Side of the River."
Saturday's twin bill features the 2018 Schedule Pennant Giveaway (first 2,500 fans), the Mystery Ball/Bobblehead Auction, FOX Fall Fanfest and Post-Game Fireworks. For details on all these promotions, visit GwinnettBraves.com. For tickets, call the Coolray Field Ticket Office at 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.