by Mike Potter
DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK It’s the finale of that high-profile series with the Pawtucket Red Sox, and for the second straight night there’s a sellout crowd in the house.
Pawtucket’s other rehabbing star, slugger Kevin Youkilis, is back in the lineup tonight as the designated hitter. And the Bulls of course continue to hit Japanese legend Hideki Matsui, who seems to be at the moment in reserve until the Tampa Bay Rays have an opening, in the cleanup spot. Tonight Matsui will play left field for the first time as a Bull.
Clayton product Chris Archer (3-4, 4.71) will go for the Bulls against Ross Ohlendorf (3-3, 4.91).
Durham puts together a huge eighth-inning comeback, escaping with a 6-5 win to split the four-game series.
In other Bulls news, starting pitcher Alex Cobb was recalled to Tampa Bay on Friday.
The Bulls scratch out a couple of runs in a noisy first inning. Jesus Feliciano leads off with a single to right, scoring on Matt Mangini’s double to left. With two out, Henry Wrigley hits an RBI single to left.
And it stays there until the fourth, when the visitors start to pile up runs. Josh Kroeger leads off with a single to right, followed by a single to center from Alex Hassan. Scott Posednik walks before Lin Che-Hsuan picks up an RBI on a fielder’s-choice ball to second. Hassan scores on Mike Rivera’s single, and then Lin scores on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.
The PawSox add another run in the fifth as Lars Anderson leads off with a single. After Archer departs with two out Anderson scores on Lin’s single to right.
Then in the seventh Pawtucket expands the lead off Jhonny Nunez, as Lin draws a one-out walk and scores on Rivera’s single to right.
But the Bulls explode for four runs in the eighth off Junichi Tazawa. With one out, Wrigley reaches on a throwing error from shortstop Jose Iglesias. After Jeff Salazar doubles to right, Cole Figueroa reaches on another Iglesias error to score Wrigley. With two out, Juan Miranda pinch-hits for Craig Albernaz and draws a walk. And Feliciano follows with a bases-clearing triple down the right-field line to clear the bases and end Tazawa’s night.
Feliciano goes 4-for-5 to lead the Bulls’ 10-hit attack. Iglesias finishes with four hits including a double to lead Pawtucket.
Romulo Sanchez picks up the victory in relief and Brandon Gomes earns his third save.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “Great job by the team! That was as close to a walk-off as you can have. They made a couple of errors, Feliciano had the big blow and Miranda scored from first. That was as exciting as when Michel Hernandez scored three years ago. We didn’t pitch that good today, but somehow we stayed in the game. When it was 4-2 it felt like 10-2. But the guy we hit off has got good stuff.”
Feliciano: “It was a great night. I was excited about that big hit. We battled all night and the pitching kept us in the game. Give credit to the guys who got on base like Salazar and even Juan Miranda. It’s good to have Matsui. It’s fun to have him around. He’s been a great player for his whole career.”
Wrigley: “These last two games have been awesome. Down two, Feliciano gets a three-run triple and you can’t ask for any more than that, and we kind of owed Pawtucket. With Matsui and Dice-K yesterday, I think the energy has been awesome. It’s great just to have a chance to play with a guy like Hideki Matsui, who has done so much for this game.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls come out of a noisy series against their worst tormentors with a little momentum.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Bulls: Won 2.
Pawtucket: Lost 2.
PawSox lead 6-2.
Bulls (Shane Dyer 0-0, 0.00) vs. Charlotte (Charlie Shirek 3-3, 4.13), Saturday, 7:05 p.m.