Durham Bulls

Defense leads the way as Bulls defeat Bats, 2-1

When the offense is away the defense saves the day. That was the case at the DBAP Tuesday evening as Durham held off Louisville 2-1 in a low scoring affair.

The Bulls (71-44) only collected four hits, and only one of those produced a run. Shane Peterson (2-for-4) hit a solo home run in the second inning to put the Bulls up 1-0. It was Peterson’s 11th home run of the season. Durham could have used another insurance run, but an RBI by Justin O’Conner in the sixth would be all they would get. O’Conner popped out and Patrick Leonard, who got on with a double, tagged up at third and took off for home plate with no hesitation, just beating the throw.

“It was time to take a chance,” Bulls’ manager Jared Sandberg said, “and it was a good time to take it.”

Louisville (45-69) tied the game at one in the sixth after an RBI Eric Jagielo, but O’Conner put the Bulls back in front in the bottom of the inning. It would be defense, and not a high-powered offense, that would save Durham on this night.

“We played some close games in Norfolk,” Sandberg said. “Over the course of the season if you can win those close games you pretty much find out how good of a ballclub you are.”

The Bulls are so good that they are 15.5 games ahead of Gwinnett in the International League South Standings. The club is on pace to finish right up there with the 2013 and 2010 teams. The 2010 club won 88 games, the best Triple-A record in team history. Over the last few weeks this team has gotten it done on the defensive side. Despite being outhit 9-4, the Bulls gave up one run or less for the fifth time in as many wins.

“We can’t put up 10 runs every game,” Leonard said. “The pitchers have done an amazing job all year, it shows with our record. It’s good to have good defense and good pitching when we’re not getting hits.”

Starter Brent Honeywell kept the Bats off the board, finishing with six strikeouts in 3 ⅔ innings of work. A quartet of pitchers - Adam Kolarek, Andrew Kittredge, Jaime Schultz, Diego Castillo - played a part in keeping the Bats off the board the rest of the way.

“Good start by Honeywell, he was able to pound the zone with the fastball,” Sandberg said. “Kolarek was able to keep the ball on the ground and then Schultz and Castillo were phenomenal.”

Durham and Louisville conclude their three-game series Wednesday at the DBAP. Yonny Chirinos (11-3) will start for the Bulls. Rookie Davis (1-2) gets the start the the Bats.

Jonas Pope IV: 919-419-7001, @JEPopeIV