DURHAM, NC - Left-hander Yohan Flande went eight strong innings to win his third-straight start as the Gwinnett Braves (49-66) beat the Durham Bulls (73-43), 4-1 on Sunday evening. The win earned Gwinnett a split of the two-game series and was the club's first victory in 10 tries at Durham Bulls Athletic Park this season.
Flande (W, 7-6), who was fresh off a 9.0-inning complete game win on Monday at Charlotte, baffled the Durham lineup for the second-straight time. He had beaten the Bulls 4-1 at Coolray Field on July 23 by pitching 6.0 innings with just one unearned run. He was even better on Sunday, allowing one earned run on three hits over 8.0 innings, walking none and striking out eight.
The G-Braves' first run came in the top of the third off of Durham starter Merrill Kelly. Sean Kazmar led off the inning with a double to right center and moved to third on a wild pitch. Atlanta Braves' outfielder Jordan Schafer, playing in his second rehab game with Gwinnett, plated Kazmar with a groundout to first for a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Gwinnett extended the lead to 3-0. Alden Carrithers led off with single to center, and with two outs, Phil Gosselin singled to center to put two on base. Joe Leonard singled to right scoring Carrithers, and Gosselin came around to score as well as Durham right fielder Chris Gimenez misplayed the ball for an error.
After Flande retired the first nine batters of the game in order, Durham got its first hit and only run in the bottom of the fourth. Tim Beckham led off with a double to left and moved to second on a passed ball. With one out, Jason Bourgeois grounded out to third, scoring Beckham and cutting the Gwinnett lead to 3-1.
The G-Braves tacked on their final run in the top of the eighth against reliever Adam Liberatore. Liberatore walked Schafer to start the inning, and with Greg Golson on as a pinch runner for Schafer, Tyler Pastornicky singled to center. Carrithers pushed Golson to third and Pastornicky to second with a sacrifice bunt. Ernesto Mejia then drove Golson in from third with a sacrifice fly to center.
Left-hander Ryan Buchter (S, 4) worked the bottom of the ninth and earned the save with a walk and three strikeouts. With the win, Flande improved to 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA (3 ER in 23.0 IP) in his last three starts.
Kelly (L, 6-2) worked 6.0 innings with four hits, two earned runs, two walks and seven strikeouts. Liberatore went 2.0 innings with one hit, one earned run, three walks and one strikeout. C.J. Riefenhauser worked a scoreless top of the ninth.
Offensively for Gwinnett, Pastornicky, Leonard and Carrithers were each 1-for-3. Mejia's sacrifice fly in the eighth drove in his team-leading 75th RBI of the season. Schafer finished 0-for-3 with a walk and one RBI.
For Durham, Beckham was 1-for-3 and scored the Bulls' only run.
The Gwinnett Braves move on to Norfolk, VA for a five-game, four-day series against the Norfolk Tides. Monday's series opener will be a doubleheader at Harbor Park beginning at 6:05 PM. In game one, the G-Braves will start right-hander Cody Martin (2-2, 2.89), while the Tides will counter with right-hander Eddie Gamboa (0-2, 7.58). Right-hander Joe Bisenius (3-4, 4.91) will start game two for Gwinnett, while Norfolk has yet to announce a starter for the second game. The radio broadcast will air on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM with Tony Schiavone calling the play-by-play.
Tickets for all Gwinnett Braves home games are on sale now at the Coolray Field Box Office. Call (678) 277-0340 or visit gwinnettbraves.com for more information.