DURHAM, NC - The Gwinnett Braves (65-63) erased deficits of 4-1 and 5-4 to stun the Durham Bulls (78-51) with a come-from-behind 6-5 win on Wednesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. A Bulls win would have clinched the International League South Division title. But the G-Braves' win in game three
DURHAM, NC - The Gwinnett Braves (65-63) erased deficits of 4-1 and 5-4 to stun the Durham Bulls (78-51) with a come-from-behind 6-5 win on Wednesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
A Bulls win would have clinched the International League South Division title. But the G-Braves' win in game three of the four-game series held the Bulls' magic number at two.
An RBI single by Micah Johnson and two-run double off the top of the wall in left by Kyle Kubitza tied the game at 4-4 in the eighth. Carlos Franco was thrown out at the plate trying to score the go-ahead run on Kubitza's near-grand slam. Durham rebounded to take a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth as Jake Bauers doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Shane Peterson, but the G-Braves again had an answer in the ninth.
Kade Scivicque and Ronald Acuña Jr. each singled off former G-Brave Chaz Roe, and Xavier Avery tied the game with a single to left, scoring pinch runner Sean Kazmar Jr. Jr. The next batter, Rio Ruiz , sent a chopper back to Roe on the mound, but the reliever settled for the out at first base as Acuna came home to score the eventual winning run.
Durham mounted one last chance in the ninth as Johnny Field doubled off Evan Phillips and Jake Hager was hit by a pitch. Left-hander Rex Brothers replaced Phillips with runners at first and second and none out. Brothers got the first out on a fielder's choice by Mallex Smith that put runners at the corners. He then struck out Willy Adames looking for the second out. Bauers stepped to the plate with a chance to be the hero, but flied out to Johnson in deep left field to end the game.
Gwinnett fell behind early as Kris Medlen allowed four runs over the first three innings. An RBI double by Willy Adames and two-run home run by Patrick Leonard opened a 3-0 lead for the Bulls in the first inning, and Bauers' solo homer made it 4-1 in the top of the third.
Medlen would settle in, however, holding Durham to four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out nine over 7.0 innings.
The G-Braves managed just one run against rehabbing Tampa Bay Rays' right-hander Matt Andriese, who pitched 4.1 innings before exiting with 73 pitches. Scivicque led off the third with a double and scored as Luis Valenzuela lined a ground-rule double down the right-field line.
Jeff Ames followed with 1.2 scoreless innings, and left-hander Adam Kolarek pitched a scoreless seventh inning. But Gwinnett started the rally in the eighth against Kolarek as Acuna beat out an infield single, Matt Tuiasosopo walked and Johnson lofted an RBI single into left field.
Roe (BS, 2, L, 0-4) replaced Kolarek and served up Kubitza's game-tying double in the eighth, then allowed two more runs in the ninth. Roe yielded four total runs on six hits over the final 1.1 innings for Durham.
Phillips (W, 2-3) allowed a run on two hits over 1.0 inning, and Brothers (S, 1) struck out one over 1.0 scoreless inning to finish the win.
Offensively for Gwinnett, Acuna went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Avery went 2-for-5 with a steal and an RBI and Kubitza went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
Durham was led offensively by Leonard, who went 2-for-4 with his 11th home run of the season and two RBIs. Bauers doubled and homered as part of a 2-for-5 effort.
The G-Braves and Bulls wrap up the four-game series on Thursday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Gwinnett will start left-hander Max Fried (Triple-A debut), while Durham will counter with left-hander Michael Roth (2-4, 5.53 ERA). Dave Lezotte has the play-by-play call beginning at 6:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM "The Other Side of the River."
The G-Braves are back home on Friday, August 25 for a doubleheader to begin a four-game series against the Charlotte Knights. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.