TAMPA, Fla. - Clearwater exploded for nine runs in the third inning, but Tampa rallied all the way back to hand the Threshers a 13-11 loss on Monday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
The Threshers led 11-4 after the fourth inning, but Tampa (67-46, 28-15) put up nine unanswered runs the rest of the way. The Yankees broke an 11-all tie with two unearned runs off Luke Leftwich (0-6) in the eighth inning.
It was Clearwater (61-53, 23-21) who moved ahead early, as Mark Laird singled to center and later scored on a Cornelius Randolph sacrifice fly to put Clearwater up, 1-0 in the first inning.
Tampa answered quickly in the bottom of the first, opening the frame with three-straight hits off Edgar Garcia to tie the game. A wild pitch and a Kyle Holder RBI double made it 3-1 Tampa.
Clearwater answered in a big way in the third.
Edgar Cabral got it going by cranking an opposite-field home run to right, cutting the deficit to one on his first long ball for Clearwater.
Emmanuel Marrero added a single through the right side, and Laird followed suit. An out later, Randolph tied the game with a single to left-center.
Wilson Garcia knocked one up the middle to give the Threshers the lead, and the floodgates opened as Jan Hernandez added a two-run triple and Derek Campbell knocked him in with a double to make it 7-3.
Cabral singled home Campbell with two outs in the inning, and Marrero worked a walk. Laird smacked a hard grounder off the first baseman Chris Gittens that caromed down the right field line, scoring two more on what was ruled a three-base error on Gittens.
All told, Clearwater struck for a season-high nine runs on eight hits in the third inning to break open a 10-3 lead.
After Tampa grabbed one back in the bottom half, Clearwater's 11th run came across in the fourth when Marrero walked with the bases loaded against reliever Caleb Frare.
Tampa crept closer with a pair off Garcia in the fifth, and closed the gap with five more runs off Blake Quinn and Leftwich in the sixth inning to tie the game at 11.
An error on shortstop Jose Gomez opened the eighth, putting Trey Amburgey on to start the inning. Leftwich struck out the next two, but Amburgey stole second and advanced to third when the throw from Cabral behind the plate bounced through to center.
Leftwich battled Holder through an 11-pitch at-bat, but Holder came through with a single to center to push across the go-ahead run. Donny Sands doubled him in to make it 13-11 Tampa.
Game two of the three-game series will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, when Seranthony Dominguez (3-1) takes the hill against Taylor Widener (5-7). The game will be broadcast live on threshersbaseball.com starting at 6:45 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.