Since surrendering a fifth-inning blast on Opening Day, Bakersfield's Ben Lively had compiled 50 2/3 homer-free innings on the mound. Then came D.J. Peterson.
The Mariners' No. 2 prospect Peterson connected for a first-inning solo shot off Lively as part of a two-homer night and drove in a career-high five runs, but Class A Advanced High Desert dropped a 12-8 decision at Bakersfield.
"He's obviously been dominant," Peterson said of Lively, who leads the California League in ERA, strikeouts and wins. "He has good stuff. He located well. He kept the ball, for a strong point, up in the zone. He throws almost like a rise ball. Technically, his ball doesn't rise, but he locates well. Through the whole team, I think we saw him well. I think we just missed some and we could've driven a couple more. But he pitched very well."
Although Peterson staked the Mavericks to a quick lead after turning on a Lively fastball, the Blaze scored seven times in the first two innings to take command of the opener of a four-game series. Reds No. 3 prospect Jesse Winker and Seth Mejias-Brean homered in the opening frame and Marquez Smith delivered a two-run double in the second.
Peterson won two of his three battles with Lively, drawing a walk in the sixth that ended the right-hander's night.
Lively (8-1), ranked 12th among Cincinnati prospects, gave up two runs on four hits while striking out eight and walking two in 5 1/3 innings. It was the second time this season the 2013 fourth-round pick has given up as many as two runs as his ERA inched up to 1.03.
Lively had more than enough run support. Mejias-Brean blasted another two-run homer in the fourth and Juan Perez smacked a three-run shot in the sixth. Winker went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Mejias-Brean totaled four RBIs and three runs scored.
High Desert starter Tyler Pike (2-2) surrendered seven runs on five hits and two walks in two innings.
With Bakersfield's ace out, the Mavericks rallied in the seventh as Peterson capped a six-run outburst with the fourth grand slam of his 94-game Minor League career.
"We just came from a long bus ride [from Lake Elsinore]," he said. "We had an all-bus series the one before. I think right now, we're all just a little tired. It was kind of a laid-back atmosphere [early], but once we jumped on them, we thought that maybe we could get it going, and it just turned out that we didn't."
Peterson, still working his way back from a hamstring injury in April, registered his second multi-homer game of the month.
"After the last two weeks, I've been taking cold baths after the games to kind of keep the legs good," the University of New Mexico product said. "I'm just trying to get back to being on the field every day, staying healthy and showing the Mariners that I can produce and work myself up."
Through 30 games, Peterson is hitting .285 with seven homers and 35 RBIs, a total that ranks fifth in the league.
Jake Johnson entered in relief of Lucas and steadied the game for Bakersfield, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out three over 2 2/3 scoreless innings.