Ben Hendrickson was roughed up for six earned runs and did not make it out of the fourth inning. Hendrickson, 9-7 with a 3.95 ERA and poor 53-to-57 K/W ratio, continued so struggle with his command, walking three.
The Bulls' offense got him off the hook, though, banging out 10 hits against Buffalo left-handed starter Zach Jackson. Most of the damage came from the middle of the Durham lineup, led by designated hitter Dan Johnson and infielder Ben Zobrist.
Johnson finished the night 2-for-4 with his 19th home run, raising his line to .301/.416/.554.
Zobrist, who hit a few big home runs for the Tampa Bay Rays when Jason Bartlett was on the disabled list, had three hits, including a two-out, three-run homer to put Jackson on the ropes in the second inning. In 17 games with the Bulls, he is batting .305/.417/.525 with 12 walks, four homers and 10 RBIs. He played the entire game at shortstop, as top prospect Reid Brignac was given the night off.
First baseman Chris Richard also homered, moving into sixth place in the IL with 21 overall for the season. Richard, a left-handed hitting veteran, has posted a .903 OPS in 101 Triple-A games.
Dale Thayer (3-0) was the pitcher of record, tossing 2.1 shutout innings in relief of Hendrickson. Thayer, 28, has put together a nice season, posting a 1.76 ERA, .240 opponents' batting average and 64-to-18 K/W ratio in 56.1 innings pitched. The right-hander, who came over in the Russell Branyan trade, has also picked up nine saves, allowing less than a hit per inning and only 11 earned runs in 42 appearances.
Chris Mason threw a scoreless seventh frame, picking up his second hold since being demoted to the bullpen. Mason, a force for the Montgomery Biscuits last year, has struggled to adjust to this level. After going 3-9 with a 6.38 ERA—even with a 77-to-29 K/W ratio—he has made six appearances as a reliever. The problem has been that he is getting hit hard: .331 opponents' batting average.
Closer Scott Dohmann picked up his 16th save by tossing two scoreless innings. Dohmann struck out three, lowering his ERA to 4.55. The 30-year-old righty has struck out 36 in 27.2 innings pitched over 22 appearances overall, but has also given up 10 earned runs on 17 hits in his past 10 trips to the mound.
With the win, Durham increased its lead in the INT South Division to eight games.
Notes: Outfielder Justin Ruggiano went 1-for-4, and is now batting .305/.365/.523, for an .888 OPS. Ruggiano has a chance to get called up to Tampa Bay—where he hit .290/.333/.452 in a small sample size of 31 at-bats earlier this season—in the near future.