Saturday, May 9, 2009

Durham Bulls Beat Gwinnett Braves 7-0, Ruggiano 3 HR's

Durham Bulls[Via email from the Durham Bulls' broadcaster Neil Solondz.]

Justin Ruggiano tied a Bulls Triple-A record with three homers, as the Bulls blanked Gwinnett 7-0 on Saturday night. Ruggiano, one of Durham's most consistent players the past two seasons, entered the contest hitting .200 with 3 HR and 11 RBI. After walking his first turn, he stepped to the plate in the third with the bases loaded and none out, and belted a first pitch fastball from Todd Redmond (2-2) onto the grass berm in right-center for a 4-0 lead. It was Ruggiano's second grand slam of the season.

After Reid Brignac homered in the fourth into the Durham bullpen, Ruggiano followed with a blast to left-center to chase Redmond. It was the first time this year the Bulls have hit back-to-back homers.

His next at-bat, Ruggiano hit a deep fly to right off Vladimir Nunez that went over the glove of Brian Barton into the right field bullpen. Ruggiano had one chance at the rare four homer game (which has been just 15 times in the majors) but grounded into a fielder's choice in the eighth. Pete LaForest was the only other Triple-A Bull to hit three homers in a game, doing so in Pawtucket on June 21, 2005.

Ruggiano's effort was more than enough to aid the Bulls pitch staff, which posted its fourth shutout. Carlos Hernandez (1-2) went six innings, allowing just three hits for his first win as a Bull. It was the first quality start for a Bull for someone other than Mitch Talbot. Jason Childers and Winston Abreu pitched hitless ball over the final three frames.

Durham (17-12) is now 2-2 on a six-game road trip, and meets the Braves on Sunday at 2 p.m. Coverage starts on 99.9 the Fan HD2 and at 1:40 p.m. Lefty James Houser starts against the top pitching prospect for the Braves, righty Tommy Hanson.

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