MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Omaha Storm Chasers scored five runs in the eighth inning to come-from-behind and top the Memphis Redbirds, 10-6, in the opener of a four-gamer series on Thursday night at AutoZone Park.
Omaha batted around and recorded its five-run rally against Eric Fornataro (1-1), who was charged with two earned runs for the blown save and loss in his first outing since being optioned by St. Louis. The scoring was highlighted by a fielding error, bases loaded walk, and two-run single by Franciso Pena.
Outfielder Randal Grichuk (2-for-3, 3 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB) hit his sixth and seventh home runs in the defeat. Both home runs were go-ahead, opposite-field blasts. It was the third multi-home run effort by a Redbird this season and second of Grichuk's professional career (July 10, 2011 vs. Midland).
Outfielder Oscar Taveras (1-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, R) homered and grew his team-leading RBI total to 31. Catcher Audry Perez added another two-hit game to raise his average to .355 on the season.
St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jason Motte, currently on a rehabilitation assignment while recovering from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow, made his second outing for the Redbirds.
The Memphis native threw two scoreless innings in relief, striking out two and walking none on 31 pitches (18 for strikes). His only blemish was a broken-bat, bloop single to begin the fifth inning.
In his first inning of work, Motte threw 20 pitches (13 for strikes) and worked around a leadoff, broken-bat bloop single to right. The right-hander retired the next three in a row on two fly outs to center and strike out of Jason Donald (swinging).
Motte worked a perfect frame in his second inning of work with 11 pitches (five for strikes). The 31-year-old got Brett Eibner to fly out to center, induced a grounder to shortstop, and struck out Jimmy Paredes looking to end the inning.
Both teams traded solo homers early in the contest, beginning with Grichuk's blast over the wall in right center in the first. Storm Chasers designated hitter Brian Fletcher evened the score in the second with a towering home run that landed in the Fogelman YMCA parking lot across the street.
The Storm Chasers offense went back to work in the third inning with a three-run rally against Memphis starter Scott McGregor. With the bases loaded after two hit batsmen and a single, Jimmy Paredes hit a two-run single for the first two runs, followed by a Paulo Orlando run-scoring single for a 4-1 lead.
Memphis fought back to take a 6-5 lead on a pair of two-run homers by Taveras in the fifth and Grichuk in the seventh.
Both starting pitchers came away with no-decisions. McGregor gave up five runs on six hits with three walks in four innings. The right-hander also tied a Redbirds franchise record with three hit batsmen, matching Nerio Rodriguez (5/4/05 at Omaha), P.J. Walters (5/16/09 vs. Fresno) and Carlos Martinez (8/18/13 vs. Omaha). John Lamb tossed a quality start for Omaha, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits in six innings in a no-decision.
Dean Kiekhefer worked a perfect frame in his in his Triple-A debut and rung up Brian Fletcher for his first Triple-A strikeout. David Aardsma ended the evening with one strikeout and two stranded runner s over 1 1/3 innings.
Memphis and Omaha continue their series a 7:05 pm CT on Friday night at AutoZone Park. Right-hander Boone Whiting (0-5, 5.15) is scheduled to take take the mound against Omaha right-hander Sugar Ray Marimon (3-1, 2.38). The first 2,000 fans will receive a commemorative bobblehead of 2013 St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year and former Redbird Kolten Wong, courtesy of Campbell Clinic Orthopaedics.