Five Durham pitchers combined to hold Norfolk to four hits as the Bulls blanked Norfolk 8-0 in front of 7,518 fans at Harbor Park Saturday night.
Chris Archer, Ryan Reid, Frank de Los Santos (3-1), Brandon Gomes and Adam Liberatore combined on the shutout, sending Norfolk to its third consecutive loss. The quartet combined to strike out seven while issuing two walks.
Steve Johnson (4-7) took the loss after yielding five runs – three earned – on seven hits in 5.2 innings of work. After yielding two first inning runs, Johnson faced the minimum over the next three frames before running into trouble again in the fifth. Norfolk committed two errors in the fifth frame, opening the door for Rich Thompson to drive home two runs with a two-out double to center field.
Thompson finished with four of Durham’s 13 hits to up his average to .313.
With the loss, Norfolk (54-55) dropped below the .500 mark for the first time since July 1. After moving a season-high five games over .500 on July 16, the Tides have now dropped nine of their last 12 games.
The two clubs will continue their four-game series Sunday night, with first pitch from Harbor Park set for 6:15. Jason Berken (2-4, 3.33) is slated to take the hill for Norfolk against right-hander Matt Torra (8-6, 4.37).
A pair of major leaguers are expected to make MLB rehab appearances at Harbor Park Sunday. Robert Andino, currently on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder, is expected to play for Norfolk. Andino has hit .230 with five home runs and 21 RBI in 79 games for Baltimore this season.
Three-time All-Star Evan Longoria is also in town with the Bulls on a rehab assignment. Longoria hit .329 with four homers and 19 RBI in 23 games for Tampa Bay before being placed on the disabled list May 1 with a partially torn left hamstring.