NORFOLK, VA-Four Norfolk pitchers combined to limit Buffalo to three hits as the Tides topped the Bisons 2-1 on a rainy Saturday night at Harbor Park. The quartet of Steve Johnson, Josh Stinson, Ramon Ramirez and Preston Guilmet combined to strike out 11 Bisons as Norfolk took the opener of the four-game set. The game was called with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning due to persistent rain and wet field conditions.
Quintin Berry reached base safely four times to lead Norfolk's offense, as he singled three times in addition to drawing a seventh inning walk. Berry singled home Steve Lombardozzi in the fifth inning to knot the score at 1-1, then Norfolk took a 2-1 lead one inning later on an RBI double by Dariel Alvarez.
Making his third start with Norfolk after coming off the disabled list, Johnson allowed just one hit - a solo home run to Andy Laroche - over 2.1 innings of work. Johnson walked four and struck out four while throwing 32 of his 54 pitches for strikes.
Johnson gave way to Stinson (3-4), who picked up the win after throwing 3.2 innings of hitless relief. Stinson struck out four without walking a batter, helping the Tides improve to 16-2 over its last 18 home contests.
With the win and Durham's loss at Lehigh Valley, the Tides pulled within 6.0 games of the Bulls in the IL South standings. It's the first time the Tides have been within 6.0 games of the division lead since they were 5.5 games back when play began on April 17.