by Mike Potter
DBAP/DURHAM It’s Game 3 of the Durham Bulls’ home series with the Buffalo Bisons, and the Bulls remain on a roll.
The Bisons have a pair of UNC alumni on their roster in veteran Russ Adams and rookie Marshall Hubbard.
It’s a hot Thursday night as lefty Heath Phillips (5-4) takes the hill for Durham against Dylan Owen (2-1).
And catcher Jose Lobaton’s first career grand slam makes the difference as Phillips has a high-quality outing and the Bulls prevail 6-1.
Buffalo gets a run in the first, as Justin Turner hits a one-out double to right and scores on Mike Jacobs’ single to right center.
But the Bulls come through with one big blow in the second. Ryan Shealy singles to left, followed by a walk to Chris Richard and Angel Chavez’s single to left before Lobaton blasts a 2-0 offering into the Diamond View seats in right for a grand slam.
The Bulls tack on two more in the seventh off Manny Acosta. J.J. Furmaniak draws a leadoff walk, followed by Desmond Jennings’ RBI double to left. Matt Joyce then walks before Dan Johnson follows with an RBI double to left center.
Phillips finishes with one of his best outings of the season, going 7 1/3 innings and allowing four hits while striking out six against a pair of walks. Owen’s only big mistake in his six innings is the homer.
The Bulls outhit the Bisons 9-5, led by Lobaton’s homer and double. Chavez and Joyce each add a double and a single.
They said it …
Bulls skipper Charlie Montoyo: “I’m more happy about what Phillips did. Our bullpen is really thin. We’re going with 11 pitchers right now. For him to do what he did is outstanding. On a hot day like this, he was very good. He’s been pitching very well. When he throws everything for strikes, he keeps guys off-balance. We knew when he got him he was going to battle. It was pretty humid today and he was very good. Lobaton has been hitting well. The way Phillips was pitching and the grand slam was the game. Their guy really pitched well after the grand slam, so we needed it. We’ve won three straight series now so that’s pretty good.”
Lobaton: “I hit a fastball middle-in. I was ready for the fastball. I was just trying to get a run in. I needed the RBI. I tried to hit the ball hard and got a good result. I’m pretty happy. I don’t like to try to hit homers but it does happen sometimes on a pitcher’s mistake, a fastball down the middle. I just want to tattoo the ball hard. … Phillips’ outing was pretty nice. He threw a lot of breaking balls for strikes; the curve ball was working pretty good and the cutter. When that happens, he gets a pretty good result. His fastball was in the strike zone.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls have won the current series, have clinched at least a tie in the season series and lead the South Division by 9 ½ games over Gwinnett.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Bulls lead 4-3.
Durham: Won 3.
Buffalo: Lost 4.
Buffalo at Bulls, 7:05 p.m.
Pat Misch (L, 5-1, 3.33) vs. Aneury Rodriguez (R, 2-4, 3.80)