by Mike Potter
DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK The Durham Bulls seem to be on the road most years on July 4, but tonight they’ll host the Norfolk Tides in the opener of a two-game set before they hit the road again.
Matt Joyce, who was with the Bulls in 2009 when they won the Triple-A National Championship, is with the Bulls on Major League rehab.
Jim Paduch (4-6, 5.31) will pitch for Durham tonight against the Tides’ Jason Berken (1-2, 2.99).
Reid Brignac homers, doubles and singles for four RBI as the Bulls win 8-2 before a monster crowd of 11,117.
The Bulls jump on Berken in the first, as Rich Thompson leads off with a double to right before Tim Beckham launches a 1-1 offering over the Blue Monster wall in left.
But Norfolk retaliates in the second. With one out, Brandon Waring singles to left, and then Blake Davis launches a 1-0 offering over the Blue Monster in left center.
The Bulls take the lead again with two runs in the sixth. With one out, Leslie Anderson reaches on an infield hit and takes second on a balk before scoring on Brignac’s double to right. Chris Gimenez follows with an RBI single to center to chase Berken and bring on Brad Bergesen.
And they put it away with three runs in the seventh. With one out, Brandon Allen singles to right and Henry Wrigley doubles to left. Then with two out, Brignac launches a 1-1 pitch high over the Blue Monster to make it 7-2.
Wrigley doubles with two singles, while Gimenez has a pair of hits with an RBI.
Paduch lasts five innings and allows two runs on six hits while striking out four against two walks. Cesar Ramos (3-1) picks up the win in relief.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “Berken knows how to pitch, so for us to hit like that off him tells you where our offense is going. But enough about him. Paduch battled and gave us a chance. We’re swinging the bats, and when you swing the bats you always have a chance. And we’re doing a good job getting the starter the lead.”
Brignac: “It’s been a long, hot day. I’m just happy we came out on top. We’ve been playing really well. It starts with pitching and defense, and when our starter comes out and gives us 5-6 good innings it really helps us out. I’m getting good pitches to swing at, being aggressive but patient at the same time. For the last 3-4 weeks my at-bats have been consistent and I’ve been getting on base and taking my walks.”
Wrigley: “I’ve been getting some good pitches to hit and barreling them up. Our hitting is coming together and our pitchers are throwing strikes and keeping us in the game. As a team, collectively everyone’s pitching in and doing what we should be doing. We’re playing really good ball right now.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls, who had a 13-game losing streak earlier in the year, are within four games of .500.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Bulls: Won 1.
Norfolk: Lost 4.
Bulls lead 5-4.
Bulls (Alex Torres 3-3, 6.52) vs. Norfolk (Tommy Hunter 1-0, 1.29), Thursday, 7:05 p.m.