[Game recap provided by Bulls Matt DeMargel.]
Durham, NC - A second inning grand slam by Jose Lobaton proved to be the difference as the Bulls downed Buffalo, 6-1 on Thursday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Heath Phillips earned his sixth victory of the season, tossing 7.1 innings allowing one earned run on four hits as the Bulls improve to 37-24 on the season.
The only Buffalo run came in the first inning as Justin Turner connected for a one-out double into the gap in right. Mike Jacobs followed with an RBI single and the Bulls found themselves down one after the first.
The Bulls took the lead in the second with the help of Lobaton, as a walk and two singles loaded the bases with nobody out against Buffalo starter Dylan Owen. Lobaton stepped to the plate and got himself ahead in the count 2-0 before connecting for the Bulls third grand slam of the season, landing deep into the right field seats and giving the Bulls a 4-1 advantage.
That was all Phillips would need, putting together his sixth quality start in 13 starts on the season. The left-hander struck out six and induced nine ground ball outs, lowering his ERA to 3.76 for the season.
The Bulls tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning off Bisons righty Manny Acosta. JJ Furmaniak walked and came around to score on a double to left by Desmond Jennings, and Dan Johnson brought home the other run with an RBI single to center field later in the inning.
Dale Thayer came on in relief of Phillips with one out in the eighth, walking a batter and plunking two more before getting out of the inning without any damage. Joe Bateman worked a scoreless ninth inning, extending his scoreless streak to 11.1 innings spread over his last eight appearances.
The victory puts the Bulls at 13 games over .500 for the season, their highest total of the season as they remain 9.5 games ahead of the rest of the pack in the South Division. After taking the first three from Buffalo in the series, the Bulls assured themselves of winning their 11th series of the season. They go for the sweep tomorrow as RHP Aneury Rodriguez (2-4 3.80) takes on LHP Pat Misch (5-1 3.33). Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. and fans are encouraged to stay after the game for fireworks.