DURHAM, N.C. — Josh Wilson’s two-run single in the top of the 11th inning broke a 10-10 tie Sunday night and helped the Gwinnett Braves to a hard fought 13-10 comeback win over the Durham Bulls in the final game of their two-game series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Jose Yepez led off the G-Braves’ three-run top of the 11th with a single to right off Durham reliever Josh Lueke. Yepez was replaced by pinch runner Felix Pie. Rusty Ryal singled to center moving Pie to third, and Ryal advanced to second on the throw from centerfield. Wilson then followed with the game-winning hit to left scoring both Pie and Ryal to move the Gwinnett Braves to a 12-10 lead. Gwinnett added one more as Brian Friday reached second on a two-base error by Durham rightfielder Rich Thompson and scored the 13th run on a double to left by Luis Durango.
It took a dramatic comeback by Gwinnett to get the game to the extra frames. Trailing 9-4 after six innings, the G-Braves edged closer on a two-run homer to right by Josh Kroeger (11) in the top of the seventh. After the Bulls upped to the lead to 10-6 with a run off Ryan Buchter in the bottom of the sixth, the G-Braves scored four in the top of the seventh to tie the game.
In the top of the seventh, with Constanza at second and Durango at first, Ernesto Mejia singled to left scoring Constanza to cut the Bulls lead to 10-7. The hit gave Mejia his 91st RBI tying him for the most RBIs in Gwinnett Braves single-season history. Stefan Gartrell, who had set the record of 91 RBIs last season, came to the plate and ripped a three-run homer down the right field line to tie the game, 10-10. It was Gartrell’s 20th homer of the season, as the four-run Gwinnett inning set the stage for their 10th-inning win.
Julio Teheran, making 24th start of the season, had a rough outing and looked as if he would tumble to his eighth loss of the season. In the bottom of the first, the Bulls struck for two runs to go up 2-0 after one. In the top of the second, back-to-back two-out singles by Ryal and Wilson cut the Durham lead to 2-1. A solo home run by Tim Beckham (4) off Teheran moved the lead to 3-1.
In the top of the third, Gwinnet tied the game with two runs off Durham starter Jeff Niemann, who was making a rehab start for the Tampa Bay Rays. Constanza led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a bunt by Durango and scored on a single to left by Mejia to cut the Durham lead to 3-2. Kroeger and Yepez followed with singles to load the bases, and a single to right by Ryal scored Mejia to tie the game, 3-3. Kroeger attempted to give the G-Braves the lead but was thrown out at the plate by Thompson in right field.
The Bulls scored four runs off Teheran to take a 7-3 lead in the third inning, ending the night for the young G-Braves' right-hander. Gwinnett added a run in the top of the fifth off Niemann to cut the lead to 7-4, but a run in the bottom of the fifth off Gwinnett reliever Buddy Carlyle and another in the bottom of the sixth off Peter Moylan ran the Durham lead to 9-4 before the G-Braves’ comeback began in the sixth.
Teheran worked 2.2 innings, giving up nine hits and seven earned runs, as he walked one and struck out two. Carlyle worked 2.1 innings with four hits, one earned run and two strikeouts. Moylan went 1.0 inning with one hit, one run and two strikeouts. Buchter was credited with 0.1 of an inning with one run and four walks. Anthony Varvaro worked 2.2 innings with one walk and one strikeout and Dusty Hughes (2-2) pitched a scoreless 10th inning with two strikeouts for the victory. Cory Gearrin worked a three up-three-down bottom of the 11th with three strikeouts for his ninth save of the season.
For the Bulls, Niemann worked 4.1 innings with 12 hits, four earned runs and three strikeouts. Matt Torra pitched 2.2 innings with three hits and two earned runs, meanwhile De Los Santos gave up four unearned runs and three hits in 1.0 inning. He walked one and struck out two and Dane De La Rosa went 2.0 scoreless with one hit, two walks and two strikeouts. Lueke (2-5) picked up the loss for the second straight night. He went 1.0 inning with four hits, two earned runs and one strikeout.
At the plate, the G-Braves banged out a season-high 23 hits. Ryal and Durango were each 4-for-6, Kroeger was 3-for-5, Constanza was 3-for-7 and Wilson and Gartrell each had three RBIs.
Leslie Anderson led Durham with a 3-for-6 night. Reid Brignac and Brooks Conrad each went 2-for-5.
The Gwinnett Braves (59-71) begin their final homestand of the 2012 regular season Monday night with the first game a two-game series against the Norfolk Tides. Right-hander Jair Jurrjens (3-5, 5.10), who is on a Major League rehab assignment for Atlanta, will pitch for the G-Braves against Norfolk right-hander Zach Clark (4-1, 1.03). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Coolray Field.