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G-Braves fall in another offensive battle

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A glacially paced hitting duel ended, finally, in a 10-8 loss for the Gwinnett Braves on Tuesday at Coolray Field.

The opener of a four-game series against Durham took four hours and 17 minutes to play and did not included many pitching highlights.

The teams, at the bottom of the South Division standings, exchanged the lead five times.

The Bulls had the last answer, taking a 9-7 lead in the sixth when Jesus Feliciano sent a two-RBI double screaming down the third-base line.

Gwinnett, which made it interesting with the bases loaded in the ninth, once again found itself with a hole to dig out of after Durham got to starter Julio Teheran in the first inning.

Rich Thompson led off with a triple and the Bulls scored two quick runs.

The G-Braves took longer to wear down Durham lefty Alex Torres, but capitalized on a handful of walks in the third inning to rally. Gwinnett scored five runs on two hits and five walks, four of them issued by Torres, to take a 5-2 lead.

Ernesto Mejia got the first hit of the night off Torres and it was a big one.

The IL All-Star hung tough during a long at-bat, fouling off several pitches in a full count and smoked a shot through the gap at center. It brought Lance Zawadzki and Luis Durango, who led off the inning with back-to-back walks, home and tied the game 2-2.

Stefan Gartrell's broken-bat rip up the middle scored Felix Pie, who also walked, from second. Another walk to Josh Wilson loaded the bases, still with only one out, and signaled the end of Torres' night.

Reliever Brandon Gomes fared no better, walking Ruben Gotay to push Mejia home.

J.C. Boscan's sacrifice fly to center scored Gartrell before a diving snag in shallow center on Zawadzki's second at-bat of the inning ended the offensive burst.

Durham got it all back and then some in the fourth when Teheran gave up four runs off a walk and four hits. Atlanta's top pitching prospect left with the Bulls up 6-5 in favor of reliever Dusty Hughes. The lefty got in a bit of a jam, but got out of the inning without yielding any more ground to Durham.

But the bats continued to rule.

Gwinnett regained the lead, 7-6, on a two-RBI double smacked into left center by Gartrell in the bottom of the fourth and Durham tied it in the fifth.

INSTANT REPLAY

Bulls 10, G-Braves 8

... What happened: Durham recorded 16 hits and beat Gwinnett in a high-scoring affair. Bulls center fielder Rich Thompson got festivities started with a lead-off triple before scoring the first run of the evening on Will Rhymes's sacrifice fly. Bulls left fielder Steven Vogt then doubled before scoring to extend Durham's early lead to 2-0. The G-Braves battled back to take leads in the third (5-2) and fourth innings (7-6), but the Bulls added runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings to cement their victory in the first of the four-game series at Coolray field.

... Durango pays dividends on the base path: G-Braves center fielder and leadoff hitter, Luis Durango added to his stolen bases total. He now leads the International League with 36 on the season, 13 ahead of Columbus' Ezequiel Carrera.

... Baserunners aplenty: Gwinnett batted around in its half of the third inning, sending 10 men to the plate -- half of which reached first base via walk. Durham turned the tables on the G-Braves the next inning as four of the 10 Bulls crossed the plate to grab the lead back from Gwinnett.

... Three's a crowd: Durham's Rich Thomson, Tim Beckham and Cole Figueroa each had three hits in the win.

... Walk this way: Gwinnett had five walks before recording its first hit and seven free passes on the evening.

... Up Next: The G-Braves continue their four-game series with the Bulls today at 7:05 p.m. Southpaw Jose Lugo (2-6, 6.03) will be on the mound for Gwinnett, while Durham will counter with righty Lance Pendleton (5-4, 4.10) .

-- Luke Dixon