Fresno, Calif. - After entering the eighth inning locked in a tie game, the Fresno Grizzlies allowed five unanswered runs in the final two frames to lose in the series opener 9-4 to the Salt Lake Bees on Thursday at Chukchansi Park.
After Matt Long singled to lead off the eighth and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, John Hester scored Long to give the Bees their first and only lead of the game with an RBI single.
Jean Machi allowed the game-winning run in the eighth to suffer the loss, his first with Fresno this season. Machi was appearing in his first game since being optioned by San Francisco. The run was also the first run allowed by Machi with the Grizzlies all year.
The Grizzlies had a pair of two-run leads in the game, including jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Gary Brown led off the game for Fresno with a triple and later scored on groundout by Nick Noonan. Brett Pill drove in the second run of the inning with double that plated Johnny Monell.
The Bees wasted little time answering, though, when Long hit a home run to open the second inning, and Tommy Field scored Hester with a double to right field. Long finished the game 3-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored.
Fresno scored a run in each the third and fourth innings. Cole Gillespie hit a blast off the scoreboard in left-center in the third while Noonan had an RBI single to score Jackson Williams in the fourth.
Once again, Salt Lake evened the score with RBI extra-base hits from Chris Nelson and Luis Rodriguez in the fifth inning to tie the game at 4-4.
Brown and Pill led the Grizzlies with three hits apiece. Noonan and Williams each had two hits to help Fresno tally 12 hits.
Grizzlies starting pitcher Justin Fitzgerald did not factor into the decision after allowing four runs on eight hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings. Brett Bochy, Dan Runzler, and Steve Edlefsen each turned in a scoreless effort out of the Fresno bullpen.
The Bees poured on four runs in the top of the ninth, capped by a two-run home run by Trent Oeltjen off reliever Daryl Maday. Maday retired only one of the six batters he faced.
The Grizzlies and Bees will square off for game two of the series on Friday at 7:05 pm. Right-hander Yusmeiro Petit will make his first start for the Grizzlies since May 5th as he has been on the disabled list with an oblique strain. Petit will face Matt Shoemaker of Salt Lake.