Davis pitches Bulls to South Division title

Johnson's go-ahead homer in eighth gives Durham second straight crown

(Durham Bulls)

By Danny Wild / Special to MLB.com | August 26, 2008 7:12 PM ET

The waiting is over for the Durham Bulls.

Wade Davis hurled six one-hit innings and Dan Johnson slugged a clutch home run to help the Bulls clinch the International League's South Division with a 3-2 win over the visiting Indianapolis Indians on Tuesday.

"It felt good, I was pretty much determined to do that or better," Davis said of his one-hit effort. "I could have went a couple more innings I think, but it went really well."

Davis struck out eight and walked two before Jeremy Cummings (8-3) pitched the final three innings to give the Bulls their second straight South Division.

Andrew McCutchen singled in the first, but Davis shut down the Indianapolis lineup thereafter.

"I can't really explain what I was thinking, it was more of not being passive about anything," said Davis. "I was determined to shut them down either way."

The Tampa Bay affiliate, which won back-to-back International League titles in 2002-'03, fell to the Richmond Braves in five games last season in the Governors' Cup.

Once the game ended, Davis said the champagne-filled clubhouse celebration was a memorable one.

"It got pretty fun in there. We've got a fun group of guys, everyone has good personalities, so it was pretty fun," Davis said.

The Bulls (71-67) took the lead in the fourth on Mike DiFelice's two-run single to left off Indians starter Mike Thompson. Dan Johnson's leadoff homer in the eighth, his 24th of the season, off Marino Salas (4-4) gave Durham a 3-2 lead after Cummings suffered his first blown save.

Ryan Mulhern hit a solo homer in the seventh and Indianapolis (65-73) rallied to tie the game an inning later when Carlos Maldonado lined an RBI double to plate Jason Delaney.

Cummings, who won a bronze medal with Team USA in the Beijing Olympics last week, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, popping up Delaney to right fielder Nathan Haynes to seal the division.

Haynes and the Bulls ran straight into the dugout, leaving the on-field celebration to Wool E. Bull, who grabbed a Durham flag and ran around the field.

Durham didn't exactly catch fire en route to the division crown -- Tuesday's win brought the Bulls to 12-13 in August, a month after they finished 14-15 in July.

"We had a couple bad games here and there, we slumped a little bit," Davis said. "We'd have good pitching and no hitting one day, and good hitting and no pitching the next. But if we can put it together, we'll do real well."

As a team, the Bulls rank third in the league in homers (146) and fifth in RBIs (618), hits (1,218) and average (.265). The Bulls' 4.24 ERA stands 10th, but they lead the league in homers allowed (129).

The successful season and division title is especially sweet for Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo. The former Major Leaguer temporarily relocated to California over the winter to be with his ailing newborn baby. He returned to Durham in time to help the Bulls to their second straight division crown.

"He's a great guy, he's good with the players and he does a good job managing the team," said Davis. "Overall, I enjoy playing for him."

Durham may face Louisville in the playoffs, and either way, the postseason will be another stage for the Rays to view Davis on.

"I always think there's room for improvement," said Davis. "I'm rolling pretty good now. I have not heard anything [about being called up], but I would love more than anything [to be promoted]. We'll see what happens, I know I can bring something to the table."

Davis said the playoffs won't carry any added pressure, at least not for him.

"[Louisville is] a good team, a lot of scrappy guys," he said. "If we can pitch well and execute, we'll come out good. I'm not going to have any pressure."

Danny Wild is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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