With the loss, Indianapolis' record falls to 39-34, while Durham improves to 43-29 on the season with the victory. The win for the Bulls also gives them a 2-1 series advantage heading into the series finale and improves their record to 22-18 on the road this season.
CF Desmond Jennings began the seventh inning scoring rally when he ripped a double to right, before back-to-back walks to RF Matt Joyce and DH Justin Ruggiano set the stage for Johnson and Dillon, who came through with a clutch base on balls and base hit to give the Bulls the 7-6 victory.
Durham jumped out to a quick lead sparked by Jennings, who led off the game by grounding a single to left, before swiping his 17th base of the season by taking second one batter later. Ruggiano then plated Jennings when he lifted a double to left field to push the Bulls ahead 1-0.
The Tribe quickly tied the score in the bottom of the first, when RF Brandon Moss blasted a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall to move into a tie with C Erik Kratz for the team lead in longballs with seven. Durham, however, pushed back ahead with a longball of their own as Johnson blasted his three-run shot in the third to plate Jennings and Joyce, who reached on a hit by pitch and single earlier in the frame.
The Indians' offense battled back with two tallies in each the third and fourth frames to take over a 5-4 lead sparked by three straight batters reaching base to lead-off each inning.
2B Jim Negrych started the rally in the bottom of the third with a base on balls, moved to second on a single by 3B Steve Pearce and quickly scored on a double by 1B Jeff Clement. Kratz then pulled the Indians to within one run when he lifted a sacrifice fly to left to bring home Pearce.
Indianapolis then continued its rally in the fourth when they again started the frame out strong with back-to-back-to-back base hits by SS Argenis Diaz, LF Kevin Melillo and Moss. Diaz would come around to score on Moss' base knock to even the score at 4-4, before Pearce put the Tribe ahead 5-4 when he lifted a sacrifice fly to right to bring Melillo plateward.
The Tribe pulled to within one in the bottom of the eighth with a little help from the Bulls' defense as Diaz reached on a Durham throwing error to lead-off the inning and quickly scored when Melillo lined a double down the right field line. Then, following a walk to Moss that put runners at first and second, Durham escaped by forcing out Melillo at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt and inducing an inning ending 6-3 double play.
Indianapolis made things interesting in the ninth as they loaded the bases with a hit by pitch of Myrow and back-to-back walks by Van Every and Diaz, but the Bulls escaped the jam as reliever Winston Abreu (1.0 IP, 2 BB, 2 SO) struck out Melillo with the bases loaded to earn his sixth save of the season.
Melillo (3-for-6, 1 R, 1 RBI) led all batters with three base knocks for the Tribe on the afternoon, while Moss (2-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB) reached base four times and Negrych (2-for-4, 1 R) turned in his fifth multi-hit effort over his last nine games played. For Durham, Jennings (2-for-4, 3 R, 1 SB) led all batters with three runs scored, while Dillon (2-for-4, 2 RBI) also collected multiple base knocks and Johnson (1-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI) paced all batters with four RBI.
Neither starter figured in the final descison as Indians' LHP Brian Burres (5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO) allowed four runs on five hits, while striking out six and walking none over 5.2 innings of work and Durham starter Richard De Los Santos (2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) surrendered three runs on five hits and three walks over just 2.2 frames of work.
Tribe reliever Brian Bass (0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB) suffered the loss to fall to 2-2 on the season after he allowed three runs on one hit and two walks in just 0.1 innings of work. On the other side Bulls' reliever Joe Bateman (1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB) earned the victory to improve to 3-0 after he tossed 1.1 scoreless frames.
Indianapolis wraps up its four-game set with Durham on Thursday, June 24 at 7:00 p.m. RHP Charlie Morton is expected to get the call for the Indians, while RHP Aneury Rodriguez is the probable starter for the Bulls.
The contest will be carried by WXLW-950 AM and broadcast live on Comcast and Bright House Networks digital channel 81 with Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley on the call. The pre-game show on WXLW-950 AM begins at 6:40 p.m.
Post-game quotes -- OF Brandon Moss
(on his 2-for-3, one home run afternoon) "I was just trying to get the ball up a little bit and stay aggressive. I've been passive at the plate the past few days and I was just trying to have a more aggressive approach."
(on the hot and humid playing conditions) "It was hot, but (the Durham Bulls) were in the same heat. We battled. Both teams battled all game. You can't let the heat get to you though. You still need to put together good at-bats and play good defense."
(on what the team needs to do to rebound from the 7-6 loss) "We just need to come out and play. We didn't play bad. We need to come out and play hard and swing the bats."