Fresno, Calif. - The Tacoma Rainiers scored four runs in the top of the eighth inning to break open a close game and give the Fresno Grizzlies an 8-6 loss to Tacoma on Saturday at Chukchansi Park.
Mike Zunino powered the Rainiers force, including a two-run double in the four-run eighth that proved pivotal after Roger Kieschnick hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth. Zunino ignited the game's scoring with a three-run home run to deep center field in the top of the first that made it 3-0 Tacoma. The home run by Zunino was his second homer of the series.
The big top-half of the eighth was started by Scott Savastano's triple sent to the right field corner. Endy Chavez's infield single to the right of second baseman Kensuke Tanaka plated Savastano for the first run of the inning. Three straight walks by Sandy Rosario after Chavez's single sent home the second run of the inning.
Rosario was tagged with the loss after allowing the four runs in 2/3 innings pitched.
The Grizzlies did answer quickly to Tacoma's three runs in the top of the first by scoring two runs in the bottom half of the first. Gary Brown led off the Fresno lineup with a single for the second consecutive night. Tanaka and Brown executed a perfect hit-and-run to move Brown to third base. After Peguero made it 3-1 with an RBI groundout, Kieschnick pulled the Grizzlies within one with his first RBI of the young season to plate Tanaka with a single.
Fresno tied the game at 3-3 in the third inning when Juan Perez scored Tanaka with an RBI single. Perez is the only Grizzlies hitter to have a hit in each of the team's first three games.
The Grizzlies grabbed their first and only lead of the game in the sixth on Francisco Peguero's RBI single to right field. It was Peguero's fourth run-scoring single in the last two nights. Peguero finished 1-for-5 with two RBI.
Kieschnick finished the game going 4-for-5 with a double, home run, and four RBI. Kieschnick's home run in the ninth was the first hit by a Grizzlies batter this season. He led Fresno with 15 home runs in 2012.
Both starting pitchers did not factor into the decision. Fresno's Andrew Kown allowed three runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Tacoma's Jeremy Bonderman, meanwhile, allowed three runs on 10 hits over five innings.
Fresno and Tacoma will complete their season-opening four-game series on Sunday at 2:05 pm. Fresno's Mike Kickham will oppose fellow lefty James Paxton of Tacoma.