The IL South-leading Durham Bulls lost their second straight game to the IL North-leading Pawtucket Red Sox, 9-7, in front of a paid crowd of 9,595 Friday night at the DBAP.
For the second consecutive night, the Paw Sox batted around in the second inning to jump on top of the Bulls. Mark Hamilton led off with his ninth home run of the season, to right field off of starter Mike Montgomery (L, 4-4, 4.52). After two walks, Dan Butler took Montgomery out to left field, for his seventh homer of the year.
Will Middlebrooks doubled in two runs to cap a six-run second. The Red Sox added a run in the third to give the Bulls their first seven-run deficit since a 9-1 loss to Scranton on June 1, which was also the last time they gave up nine runs.
The Bulls battled back, scoring three in the third on a bases-loaded double by Shelley Duncan and a Leslie Anderson sacrifice fly. Cole Figueroa hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth to cut the Pawtucket lead to 7-4.
Despite the early deficit, the Bulls would send the tying run to the plate five times. Duncan ended the fourth with a bases-loaded double play grounder. In the sixth, Brandon Guyer and Vince Belnome struck out back-to-back with two runners on.
Down 9-4 in the eighth, Belnome doubled in a run, and Duncan and Anderson each added RBIs. Representing the tying run, Tim Beckham lined out to end the inning.
Clayton Mortensen (W, 1-0, 2.92) earned the win in relief. Anthony Carter earned his fourteenth save.
The Bulls will look to salvage a split of the showdown between IL division leaders in the final two games of the series. Game three is scheduled for 7:05pm on Saturday at the DBAP. RHP Merrill Kelly (4-0, 1.70) will start for the Bulls against Pawtucket's RHP Charlie Haeger (1-1, 6.89).