by Mike Potter
The Durham Bulls may have clinched their fourth straight playoff spot last week, but their momentum hasn’t slowed a bit.
The win left the Bulls (82-47) one game shy of tying the club’s Triple-A single-season victory mark with 14 games left in the season.
Meanwhile the Carolina Mudcats moved to the brink of elimination in the Southern League’s North Division race, their “tragic number” falling to two with a 9-5 loss in the opener of their three-game series with the Birmingham Barons at Five County Stadium.
The Bulls will move home for the final two games of their seven-game set against Norfolk on Tuesday night, while the Mudcats’ series with Birmingham continues.
Bulls 8, Norfolk 4
Rocco Baldelli added a double and a single with two RBI in Durham’s 14-hit attack.
Aneury Rodriguez (9-5) was the winning pitcher while Chris George (5-7) took the loss.
J.J. Furmaniak added a triple for the Bulls, who had five players finish with multiple-hit games.
Jeff Salazar homered and doubled with a pair of RBI for Norfolk.
Birmingham 9, Mudcats 5
John Shelby’s grand slam in the sixth inning was the key hit for the Barons in the victory.
Kyle Bellamy (2-2) was the winning pitcher while Brad Boxberger (1-4) took the loss.
Salvador Sanchez homered and singled with a pair of RBI for Birmingham.
Luis Terrero had a two-run homer for Carolina, while Sean Henry chipped in three hits with two RBI.
The Mudcats had another big transaction on Monday, as ace right-hander Matt Klinker was called up to Louisville.
Norfolk at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
Troy Patton (L, 7-10, 4.85) vs. Richard De Los Santos (R, 13-5, 3.59)
Birmingham at Mudcats, 7:15 p.m.
Matt Long (R, 6-8, 5.05) vs. Travis Webb (L, 6-8, 5.13)