Durham Bulls

Early home runs help Durham Bulls slug their way past Gwinnett Braves

The Durham Bulls hit so much early in Thursday night’s game with Gwinnett they didn’t need to add any more runs the rest of the game.

Shane Peterson slammed a three-run, first inning home run and Mike McKenry added a two-run shot during a five-run second inning as the Bulls beat the Braves 8-5 in International League baseball at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The Bulls led 8-0 after the first two innings and survived Gwinnett’s five late-inning runs.

Peterson put Durham on the board with two outs and two on in the first inning. A left-handed batter, Peterson hit a Patrick Weigel pitch the opposite way and over the Blue Monster in left field.

Or did he? Yes the ball cleared the 32-foot blue wall. The umpires ruled it also cleared the metal fence on top of the wall for a home run.

Gwinnett manager Damon Berryhill disagreed and was ejected after arguing the call.

In the second inning, things got worse for the Braves and better for the Bulls. McKenry launched a Weigel pitch for a two-run homer to right field for a 5-0 Durham lead.

Later in the inning, Willy Adames made the score 7-0 with a two-run double. Adames scored on Jake Bauers’ groundout.

“We got pitches in the zone and we made their starter pay,” Bulls manager Jared Sandberg said. “The command wasn’t all that great. He didn’t command and we got ourselves in some good counts and were able to hit the ball out of the ballpark.”

Durham starter Yonni Chirinos, after throwing a complete game shutout last Saturday night against Toledo in the same stadium, extended his scoreless innings streak to 16 ⅔ innings before Gwinnett’s Mel Rojas, Jr., touched him for a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

Chirinos pitched six innings against the Braves, allowing seven hits. He allowed just four hits over the first five innings without surrendering a run. Gwinnett touched him for three hits, including the two-run homer, in the sixth.

Steve Wiseman: 919-419-6671, @stevewisemanNC