Braves get win in final Durham game
The Durham Bulls were looking for their 10th win at home against the Gwinnett Braves on Sunday.
Bulls pitcher Merrill Kelly, facing the Braves for the fourth time in six starts and aiming to keep his record perfect against Gwinnett, gave up just four hits while posting seven strikeouts.
But it was Braves starter Yohan Flande who stole the show, scattering three hits while striking out eight through eight innings for a 4-1 win in International League action at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
It was the second win in a row against the Bulls for Flande (7-6), who beat Durham by the same score on July 23 at Gwinnett.
“Yohan Flande keeps doing it against us,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “The last time we faced him, it was the same thing — he went like seven innings the same way. We’re not making adjustments. ... I don’t know (what pitch) it is; I know we’re off-balance.
“His numbers are not that great, but against us, he’s done a good job. That’s how baseball works a lot of times.”
The Bulls (73-43) had base runners in only three innings, including a walk to Tim Beckham in the ninth by reliever Ryan Buchter. But after Beckham went to second on a wild pitch, Buchter settled down to strike out the side for his fourth save of the season.
“When (Buchter) walked Beckham, the entire bench over there was saying, ‘Uh, oh,’” Montoyo said. “But it didn’t work out. We’ve done good against him, so you get that vibe. But it was their day; we didn’t get anything going.”
The Braves got to Kelly (6-2) in the third inning when Sean Kazmar led off with a double to center, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout to take a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, Gwinnett (49-66) scored a pair of runs on a single to right by Joe Leonard when Durham’s Chris Gimenez overran the ball, then hesitated before throwing home too late to prevent Philip Gosselin to score from first for a 3-0 lead by the Braves.
“It was one of those games where most pitches seem to be going to where you want it to,” Kelly said. “I feel like I pitched pretty well — just a couple of pitches here and there that if I had made a little better, I would have got a better outcome. That slider with two out in the fifth to Gosselin, with (an 0-2 count), was too good of a pitch to hit.
“If I bury that slider and don’t give him that good of a pitch to hit, probably have a better outcome and those runs don’t come through.”
Beckham opened the bottom of the fourth with the Bulls first hit, a double into the left-field corner. A passed ball by Gwinnett catcher Jose Yepez moved Beckham to third, and he hesitated before breaking for home to score on a groundout by Jason Bourgeois to trim the margin to 3-1.
The Braves added a run in the eighth off reliever Adam Liberatore, who came on in the seventh inning for Durham. Jordan Schafer drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a single by Tyler Pastornicky, took third on a sacrifice bunt by Alden Carrithers and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ernesto Mejia.
The loss came a day after an 11-3 win by the Bulls in the opener of the brief two-game series.
“I know back-to-back 11-run games wasn’t happening,” Montoyo said.
NOTES — Before the game, the Bulls honored former Negro League players including: Roy Alston, infielder, Durham Rams; Levi Barbee, infielder, Rams; Willie Bradshaw, pitcher, Rams, Eagles, Colts; Pernell Canady, pitcher, Rams; Thomas Clark, infielder, Rams; Joe Dale, infielder/catcher, Rams; Ken Free, infielder, Greensboro All-Stars; Willie Gray, outfielder, Rams; Willie “Pete” Hayes, infielder/outfielder Rams; Horace Johnson, pitcher/infielder Hillsborough All-Stars; Wesley Lee, infielder, Rams, Black Socks; Robert Pennington, pitcher, Rams; Pete Payton, Rams, N.Y. Giants; Artis Plummer, infielder, Durham Eagles, Rams, Colts; Sterling Upchurch, catcher, Rams; Walter Wilson, infielder, Eagles, Rams; James Womble, pitcher, Rams, Eagles; Tom Womble, infielder, Rams, Eagles; Ken Valentine, Winston-Salem Pond Giants, Birmingham, Indianapolis Clowns, White Sox; and Archie White, Hillsborough All-Stars. ... The Bulls open a four-game series against the Rochester Red Wings today with Matt Buschmann (5-0, 3.36 ERA) scheduled to pitch for Durham.
Braves 4, Bulls 1
Schafer cf|3|0|0|1|Beckham ss|3|1|1|0
Golson pr-cf|0|1|0|0|Fontenot 2b|4|0|1|0
Pastornicky 2b|3|0|1|0|Bourgeois lf|4|0|0|1
Carrithers lf|3|1|1|0|Belnome 3b|4|0|1|0
Mejia 1b|3|0|0|1|Duncan 1b|3|0|0|0
Boggs rf|3|0|0|0|Anderson dh|3|0|0|0
Gosselin dh|4|1|1|0|Frey cf|3|0|0|0
Leonard 3b|3|0|1|1|Flores c|3|0|0|0
E—Gimenez. LOB—Gwinnett 5, Durham 3. 2B—Kazmer, Beckham, Fontenot. S—Carrithers. SF—Mejia.
Flande (W, 7-6)|8.0|3|1|1|0|8
Buchter (S, 4)|1.0|0|0|0|1|3
Kelly (L, 6-2)|6.0|4|3|2|2|7
WP—Buchter, Kelly. Balk—Kelly. PB—Yepez. Umpires—HP, Ian Fazio; 1B, Seth Buckminster; 3B, Brad Myers. T—2:38. A—9,625.