It seemed as if the Buffalo Bisons had done just enough to open their series with the Durham Bulls with a win at Coca-Cola Field Thursday night.
But it wasn’t quite enough.
The Herd had built a 3-0 lead, but starter Thomas Pannone gave up two late runs to let the Bulls back into the game. Brandon Snyder hit a two-run home run off reliever Jose Fernandez in the ninth and Durham opened the series with a 4-3 win.
Buffalo opened the scoring in the third on an RBI single from Dalton Pompey, his second game back with the Herd since injuring his left thumb in early June.
The Bisons scored twice in the fourth. Rowdy Tellez drove his eighth home run of the season over the center field wall and Reese McGuire’s RBI double gave Buffalo a 3-0 lead.
Pannone was pitching well in his third start for the Herd. The Triple-A rookie racked up nine strikeouts and no walks. But he gave up a home run to Brandon Lowe in the seventh and then a ground out by Nick Ciuffo in the eighth cut the Herd’s lead to 3-2.
Pannone left after eight innings, giving up the two runs on six hits while throwing 97 pitches.
But Fernandez would suffer his second blown save of the season and get tagged for his second loss when he gave up the two-run homer to Snyder.
Point of interest: The Bisons tried to use their speed on the bases for a comeback in the ninth, but it didn’t work. Tellez drew a four-pitch walk to start the inning. Roemon Fields, tied for the International League lead with 22 stolen bases, came in to pinch run. But Gio Urshela popped out to right field for the first out. Then the Bisons were a victim of a strike-him-out-throw-him-out double play as Anthony Alford struck out swinging and Fields was caught stealing.
Noteworthy: McGuire was the only Bison with multiple hits (2 for 3) as the Herd managed just six as a team. ... The eight innings pitched by Pannone ties a season-high for most innings pitched by a Bisons starter with Deck McGuire and Chris Rowley. ... Durham holds a 3-1 advantage in the season series.
Next: The series continues at Coca-Cola Field at 7:05 p.m. Friday with Chris Rowley (5-6, 3.45 ERA) scheduled to start for the Bisons against Zach Lee (2-2, 3.66 ERA). Brandon Cumpton, who has a 2-0 mark with the Herd and a 1.13 ERA, is scheduled to start for Saturday’s 6:05 p.m. game against Forrest Snow. Sean Reid-Foley pitches on Sunday.