[Via email from the Durham Bulls' broadcaster Neil Solondz.]
Shawn Riggans' third hit, a two-run double in the ninth, gave Durham the lead for good on Tuesday in a 9-6 win over Syracuse, a result that certainly helped the Bulls' playoff chances.
With 13 games left in the regular season, Durham (73-58) moved 3.5 games ahead of the Chiefs in the wild card race by taking three of four in the series. The Bulls are now two games behind Gwinnett in the South Division, with four games left head-to-head between the two teams.
After Durham squandered leads of 5-0 and 6-3, Akinori Iwamura doubled to left center off Zack Segovia (1-2) to start the ninth. Joe Dillon moved him to third on a grounder to second. Fernando Perez then walked on a 3-2 pitch and stole second. After the stolen base, Matt Joyce was walked intentionally. Riggans then ripped a 1-1 pitch to left center for an 8-6 lead. Michel Hernandez followed with a sac fly for insurance.
For the second straight night, Winston Abreu finished up, earning his 13th save. Dale Thayer (2-5) got the final three outs in the eighth. Syracuse had rallied for three runs in the frame to tie the contest, giving Jeremy Hellickson a no-decision. Hellickson had allowed only one baserunner threw six, and went seven, giving up three on a two-out three-run homer, while striking out 10, walking just one.
Durham collected 12 hits, three by Riggans, and two by Hernandez, Iwamura and Desmond Jennings. Matt Joyce added a first-inning grand slam, his 14th homer.
Durham now heads to Norfolk (five GB in the wild card race) for three games beginning on Wednesday. Jeff Bennett starts against David Pauley. Coverage on 99.9 the Fan begins at 6:55, with first pitch at 7:15.