Bats get past Bulls in 10 innings
The Durham Bulls became the first team to come back against Louisville Bats closer Jumbo Diaz this season. They just couldn’t do it twice.
Diaz (2-1) blew a save for the first time in 12 opportunities, but the Bats scored in the 10th inning to win 4-3 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Down 3-2 in the ninth, the Bulls had tied the game when Vince Belnome led off with a double and scored on a two-out single by Hak-Ju Lee.
But Felix Perez hit an RBI triple with one out in the 10th against Durham reliever Adam Liberatore (1-1), who gave up two runs in two innings to end his 15-inning scoreless streak.
Diaz then worked around a one-out walk to Wilson Betamit in the 10th, getting a flyout by Jerry Sands and a groundout by Belnome to close out the game.
Louisville (21-23) led 2-0 after three batters on a two-run homer by Perez, his fifth of the season. But Durham starter Merrill Kelly settled down after that, allowing just three more hits over the six innings while striking out seven.
The Bulls got even with a run in the fourth and another in the sixth against Major League veteran Chien-Ming Wang. First, Jayson Nix singled, moved to third on a double by Mikie Mahtook and scored on a groundout by Betamit, though Mahtook couldn’t get off third with one out when Sands struck out.
Durham (26-20) then tied the score when Mahtook doubled and scored on a single by Betamit in the sixth.
Kelly was forced to leave the game one batter into the seventh inning with an a hand cramp. In stepped C.J. Riefenhauser, who was making his first appearance since being placed on the disabled list on April 28 with a left oblique strain.
Riefenhauser had thrown nine straight scoreless innings before his injury, but couldn’t recapture that same effectiveness in his first stint back. Riefenhauser gave up a double to Donald Lutz, walked Thomas Neal on four pitches and then walked Tucker Barnhart to load the bases.
Durham then went to Jeff Beliveau, who got a groundout and strikeout to keep the score tied at 2-2.
Beliveau gave way to Liberatore, who gave up a two-out single to No. 9 hitter Chris Negron in the top of the ninth to give Louisville the lead. But Sands threw a runner out at the plate, keeping the Bats’ lead at one run and setting the stage for Diaz’s blown save.
It was just the second blown save in 26 chances for Diaz over the past two seasons, but Diaz was able to get the win when Louisville scored in the top of the 10th. Diaz remains tied for the IL lead in saves with Durham’s Kirby Yates, who is perfect in 11 chances this season.
NOTES – Bulls LHP Mike Montgomery was named the IL Pitcher of the Week on Monday, marking the southpaw’s second Pitcher of the Week honor this season. The 24-year-old went 2-0 in two starts this past week, allowing four runs in a league-high 14.1 innings of work while striking out 11. Montgomery becomes the first Bulls player to be honored IL Player or Pitcher of the Week twice in one season since RHP J.D. Martin, who won the award two times in 2013 en route to being named IL Most Valuable Pitcher. … Infielder Robby Price was transferred to Short-Season Hudson Valley when Riefenhauser was activated from the disabled list. Price was hitting .297/.408/.422 in 22 games.