FRESNO GRIZZLIES— Matt Yourkin had a tough act to follow after Barry Zito’s two-hit shutout on Tuesday night, but the southpaw certainly did his part. Yourkin took the mound on Wednesday and gave up a solo shot early in the game, but was in cruise control after that, giving up just three hits over six innings of work as Fresno beat Salt Lake, 8-3, at Chukchansi Park.
Yourkin (5-4) struck out Kevin Melillo for the first out in the top of the third just before Kevin Richardson yanked a fastball into the left field bleachers for the first run of the game, making it 1-0, Salt Lake.
With the Bees (31-43) up by one, Brett Pill— who reached base on an error in the bottom of the second inning— tied up the game in the bottom of the fourth, as he sent the ball sailing into the left field bleachers eventually hitting the stadium fence.
The Grizzlies (33-41) broke the game open in the fifth inning with six runs. Brad Eldred, who hit a shot into the left field bleachers Tuesday night, started off the inning by putting one in the almost exact same spot, his 12th home run of the season. Max Ramirez singled up the middle and Sanchez matched that by sending a ball into right field for a base hit. With two on and one out, centerfielder Tyler Graham doubled to left center to plate Ramirez, his first run scored with the Grizzlies. With Graham at second and Sanchez at third, Gonzalez extended his on base streak to an active league-high 28 games by putting a ball up the middle to plate both runners, making it 5-1. The hitting didn’t stop there, as Pill sent one sailing in left field for a two-run shot off right-hander Bear Bay. That forced Bees’ manager, Keith Johnson, to pull his starter after Bay (4-4) allowed 10 hits and seven runs over 4.2 innings.
The Bees threatened in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one out. Centerfielder Tyson Auer tapped a ball in front of the plate against Ronnie Ray, who nabbed the ball and flipped it to Sanchez who retreated back to home plate for the force on Velazquez. The threat ended as right fielder Reggie Willits flew out to Thomas Neal, stranding all three runners.
The Grizzlies tacked on another run in the seventh as Eldred hit a bloop single into center field scoring Conor Gillaspie, who drew a walk to start the inning. Neal doubled on a ball hit to right field off the mitt of a diving Reggie Willits as Gillaspie advanced to third. Eldred singled to leave runners on the corners for Ramirez, but he hit the ball right back to the pitcher who started an inning-ending double play.
Bees third baseman Jeff Baisley answered back in the top of the eighth by crushing a ball into left center off right-hander Felix Romero, a two-run shot that cut the Grizzlies lead down to five. Romero gave up a double to Melillo and surrendered a walk before pinch-hitter Cole Armstrong grounded out to Gonzalez to end the inning.