Grizzlies, Tacoma light it up but Rainiers have most spark in win

The Fresno BeeJuly 4, 2014 

There was no shortage of fireworks throughout Friday night at Chukchansi Park.

Especially with the Fresno Grizzlies and Tacoma Rainiers combining for six homers, 28 hits and 18 runs during one of the most offensively oriented games of the year at the downtown ballpark.

When it was over, the Rainiers prevailed 11-7 after generating 17 of those hits, an attack highlighted by two home runs from No. 5 hitter Stefen Romero and a six-RBI night for cleanup man Jesus Montero before a Fourth of July announced crowd of 11,988.

It was Romero who kicked off the barrage when he blasted a three-run homer in the first off Fresno starter Edwin Escobar.

"We've got to pitch better than that; that's not going to get it done," Grizzlies manager Bob Mariano said. "Esky left too many balls out over the plate and he was facing a pretty good club.

"We kept coming back with our offense. But we always let them back in it and that's just too much for our offense to overcome. And then we ran out of innings."

Fresno, four games above .500 on June 12, has lost 14 of 21 to fall to 43-46.

Romero homered again, a solo shot off Escobar in the fifth, completing the back end of consecutive shots — just after Montero bruised Escobar with a two-run homer.

Montero, once considered pro baseball's top catching prospect, finished 5 for 5.

It turned out to be Escobar's worst outing of the year, as the Grizzlies' top-rated prospect got punished for nine runs (six earned) on 10 hits and a walk before he was pulled after 4-2/3 innings.

The most runs Escobar had allowed before Friday was six, on April 15 when he was still getting used to Triple-A hitters and figuring out his mechanics.

As much as the Grizzlies' pitching wilted, Fresno's offense kept punching back and amassed 11 hits — including three home runs.

Gary Brown led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer over the left-field wall. Chris Dominguez connected on a two-run homer during the fourth. And Ehire Adrianza went yard with a solo shot in the in the seventh.

Andrew Susac, in a slump that saw him hit .203 in June after hovering around .300 for much of the early season, was 4 for 4 with two runs and an RBI.

Yet despite all that offensive output, the Grizzlies still fell to 28-16 when recording 10-plus hits.

Afterward, the rowdy crowd that performed the wave late in the game and loudly cheered the homers and each of the other Grizzlies' runs still gave the home team a heavy round of applause following the final out.

Then the crowd got really loud as the Grizzlies entertained the near-sellout with a 13-minute fireworks show that went off while patriotic music blared from the stadium sound system.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6362, or @Banteola_TheBee on Twitter.

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