LAWRENCEVILLE - With usual starter Carlos Hernandez put on the disabled list, Durham attacked the Gwinnett lineup with its bullpen from the first inning.
A collection of four pitchers tried to hold off a Gwinnett lineup that had put up an average of seven runs against the Bulls in the last three games.
They nearly did.
Gwinnett stranded nine runners in the game and though it fell behind by three runs after three innings, the G-Braves kept nibbling. They plated a run in the fourth, one in the seventh and one in the eighth.
In the ninth came the bite.
Reid Gorecki led the inning off turning on a first pitch fastball and sending it high into right field. His ninth home run tied the game at 4.
"That was lucky," said Gorecki who was 4-for-5 on the night. "I was looking for fastball up and I got it.
"I'll take it."
A batter later, Brandon Jones needed two pitches before he cranked the game-winner deep over the right field wall.
"I put a good swing on it," the designated hitter said. "It was good timing. I was just trying to stay up for my team."
The 5-4 win put Gwinnett (66-51) alone in first place in the International League's South Division for the first time in team history.
"This is a good group of guys and we know we are good," Jones said. "It doesn't matter how many runs we are down we still have a chance to come back."
Jones ended the game 1-for-5, but had a first-inning home run robbed by Bulls' (65-52) centerfielder Desmond Jennings, who reached over the wall to bring it back.
"He made a good play on it," said Jones, who threw his helmet in the air as he met the mob of teammates at home plate following his walk-off homer. "It was a lot of fun. It's playoff baseball. It's us versus them and both teams are scrappy."
The robbed home run typified the early offensive struggles of the G-Braves, who stranded five runners in the first four innings. Starter Jonny Venters only allowed three runs off six hits, but the runs loomed large as G-Braves kept ending innings on base.
"We kept at it," Gorecki said.
Just long enough.
Following Venters, Juan Perez allowed the fourth run. But then came Buddy Carlyle. The recently optioned reliever struck out five of the six batters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings, not allowing Durham to sniff a chance at extending its lead. Carlyle picked up his second win and kept his 0.00 Class AAA ERA.
Gwinnett added one in the eighth to cut its deficit to one before the ninth-inning bonanza.
"Our motto this year is get it done," Gorecki said. "With these guys, every win is big, but the way we won tonight is huge for us."
G-Braves 5, Bulls 4
What happened: Reid Gorecki and Brandon Jones hit solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie and then beat the Durham Bulls. Gorecki led the inning off with a shot to left field and a batter later, Jones hit a bomb to right field for the team's first walk-off home run. The Durham runs came early, getting three off starter Jonny Venters and one of Juan Perez. But Buddy Carlyle halted the Bulls' attack. The recently option reliever struck out five of the six batters he faced to get his second Class AAA win. Gorecki's home run capped a 4-for-5 game for the centerfielder. Chris Burke had two RBIs in the win in a 1-for-3 night.
Division race: The win puts the G-Braves alone atop the International League's South Division for the first time this season, one game up on Durham.
Stat of the day: Gwinnett scored five runs despite stranding nine base runners.
Web gem: Brandon Jones would have hit his fifth homer of the season in the first inning, except it found the leaping glove of Bulls' CF Desmond Jennings at the 400 sign in center field.
Pivotal moment: Brandon Jones' game-ending home run to deep right field. The designated hitter was mobbed by teammates at home, throwing his helmet in the air before he reached the base.
Worth noting: The Wes Timmons streak is now at 42 games. The infielder singled in the third inning and stretch it to second base, pushing his league-best on-base streak another game. Reid Gorecki also upped his hit streak to seven games in a four-hit performance.
On deck: LHP Jo-Jo Reyes (2-1, 3.03 ERA) looks to build on two solid starts for Gwinnett against Bulls' LHP Jason Cromer (5-2, 2.18 ERA).