by Mike Potter
DBAP/DURHAM The Durham Bulls finish their four-game set with the Norfolk Tides looking for a tie before their off day and ensuing four-game road trip to Gwinnett.
Tonight will mark the second rehab outing for big Jeff Niemann (0-1, 9.00), who last pitched here in 2008 and is recovering from a back injury. Norfolk will counter with Mitch Atkins (1-1, 3.80).
One run doesn’t often do it at DBAP, but it does tonight as Durham gets a rare 1-0 win.
It’s a pitchers’ duel from the start, and that never really changes.
Niemann gets out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, and the Bulls get the run in the fourth. Atkins hits Brandon Guyer with a pitch with two out to give the Bulls their first baserunner, and Dan Johnson follows with a single to left.
The Bulls get a double play for Niemann in the fifth and another for R.J. Swindle in the sixth. Dane De La Rosa gets into and out of trouble in the seventh and then Brandon Gomes strikes out all three in the eighth.
Norfolk gets singles from Josh Bell and former Bull Rhyne Hughes to start the ninth off Jake McGee, but catcher Jose Lobaton guns down Bell at third on a bunt and McGee proceeds to strike out two for his fifth save.
Niemann goes 5 1/3 and allows three hits with four strikeouts against three walks. Atkins also gets the quality start in a tough-luck loss, lasting seven innings and allowing just three hits while striking out seven without a walk.
Russ Canzler has two hits for the Bulls.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “That was a nail-biter, huh? Actually, they’re fun. You have to make the right pitches at the right time, the right moves — I think in the sixth inning I told our pitching coach (Neil Allen) that this might be a 1-0 game so we needed to make the right moves with our bullpen. There was no room for error. That play Lobaton made was ‘Noooooo … yes!’ Niemann is healthy and should be able to go help the big league club.”
Niemann: “My command of the off-speed was good tonight. I was able to put guys away when they made kind of weak contact. The close game was a help. You get the adrenaline going and go out there and try to make pitches. I felt great. The velocity stayed the same and got better towards the later innings so we can feel good about that. I know this place well. It’s nice to make a little stop here, and hopefully I’ll move on and see it in the next exhibition game we play here.”
Johnson: “I was ahead in the count and got a little breaking ball. I thought it would be up a little higher than it was. It had some good depth and I was fortunate enough to find a hole. It worked out nice. I don’t know if I’ve played in a game here where one run was enough to win a game. Atkins was throwing strikes with all his pitches, and if you do that you’re going to have a good day.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls hold a share of first place going into a big series with co-leader Gwinnett.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Johnson’s RBI single.
Bulls: Won 2.
Norfolk: Lost 2.
Bulls (Jay Buente 0-2, 0.60) at Gwinnett (Brandon Beachy 1-1, 3.45), Thursday, 7:05 p.m.