The Durham Bulls continued their dominance in the month of July, defeating the Gwinnett Braves Friday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the team’s sixth straight victory.
Fans braved the weather, and have all week, staying supportive throughout each contest. Even a few among the 7,013 in attendance Friday night attempted to start the wave—it only survived through a few sections.
Buzz surrounded the game as Atlanta Braves star rookie catcher, Evan Gattis, started his first game of a rehab stint since being optioned to Gwinnett. He went hitless, 0-for-4, striking out twice.
Behind starting pitcher Merrill Kelly, (4-0, 1.70) and the bats of infielder Cole Figueroa, left fielder Leslie Anderson and shortstop Tim Beckham, the team dominated the Braves throughout en route to a 3-0 victory.
“I’ve just been fortunate enough to make some good pitches when I needed to, like when I had the bases loaded tonight and make the quality pitches to get out of tough jams like that," Kelly said. “That’s just pitching. Every game isn’t going to be a cakewalk.”
In his only other start against the Braves this season, on July 7, Kelly went seven scoreless innings, only giving up three hits in another shutout win, 1-0.
Kelly, along with relievers Jeff Beliveau, Josh Lueke and Kirby Yates, held Gwinnett at bay, allowing eight combined hits, eight strikeouts and no runs.
“This is probably one of the better squads I’ve ever played with, all the way around," Kelly said. "The pitching—the bullpen is awesome and our offense is ridiculous."
“They come out and play every game, so it makes it easier pitching knowing they have my back.”
In the bottom of the fourth inning after an Anderson single and double from second baseman Ryan Roberts, moving Anderson to third, starting Gwinnett pitcher David Hale threw a “wild pitch,” escaping the grasp of catcher Matt Pagnozzi, allowing Anderson to take home plate for the 1-0 lead.
Figueroa followed the following inning with a home run, his third of the season, to right field, just escaping the reach of Braves outfielder Brandon Boggs.
The Bulls third baseman went 3-for-4 Friday, improving his season batting average to .307 and on base percentage to .774.
Beckham joined the run party in the eighth inning, blasting a double to center field, scoring Figueroa, giving Durham a deciding 3-0 advantage.
With the victory, the Bulls remain atop the International League’s South Division with a 10.5 game lead, and lead the league in wins, with 61.
The two teams will be back in action tonight at the DBAP with first pitch scheduled at 7:05.
Box score is here
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