DURHAM, NC - The first-place Durham Bulls beat the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, 5-4 Friday night in the opener of a four-game set at the DBAP.
Tied 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Curt Casali crushed a two-run home run over the Snorting Bull sign in left field to propel the Bulls in front 5-3. Then in the top of the eighth, Adam Liberatore loaded the bases with nobody out, giving way to closer Kirby Yates. The right-hander escaped by allowing just one run in the frame, before setting down the side in order in the ninth for his league-leading 14th save in as many chances.
The Bulls (33-23) built a 3-0 lead on a second-inning RBI single by Mike Fontenot and a two-run double by Mikie Mahtook in the fifth.
Durham appeared to be in cruise control, as Mike Montgomery faced the minimum through five no-hit innings.
However, Montgomery's quest to become the IL's second pitcher to win seven games this season was derailed in the sixth. Leandro Castro led off with Lehigh's first hit, then Andres Blanco walked, and a misplay on a Ronny Cedeno single scored Castro. Tyson Gillies' sacrifice fly and a wild pitch by Montgomery tied the score before the inning was over.
The blast made a winner of Jake Thompson (3-0), who tossed 1 1/3 scoreless frames. Starter Greg Smith (4-3) took the loss for Lehigh Valley (29-26), surrendering five runs (four earned) in six innings.
The Bulls and 'Pigs play game two of the four-game set Saturday at 7:05 p.m. RHP Alex Colome makes his first Bulls start of the season against RHP Barry Enright (3-2, 4.06) for Lehigh Valley.