Francisco Pena’s two-out, two-run single finished off a five-run eighth inning rally that catapulted Omaha past Memphis, 10-6, Thursday night in the first of four meetings at AutoZone Park. The Storm Chasers earned their third straight win to improve to 18-20 overall and 5-9 away from home.
Following three scoreless innings from Jason Motte and Dean Kiekhefer, Memphis called on Eric Fornataro to protect a 6-5 lead going into the decisive frame but the right-hander would record only two outs in his first appearance since being sent back to Triple-A from the big leagues. Christian Colon’s single plated Jason Donald with the tying run and a fielding error by first baseman Xavier Scruggs permitted Brett Eibner to score the go-ahead run. A bases loaded walk to Paulo Orlando made it 8-6 and set the stage for Pena, who provided the knock-out blow that chased Fornataro from the hill. Ramon Troncoso worked a scoreless bottom of the frame and turned things over to Spencer Patton, who came on in the ninth to close out Omaha’s third win in five games against the Redbirds and a first victory when trailing after seven innings.
Randal Grichuk got the scoring started with a solo home run in the bottom of the first that was answered by Brian Fletcher’s lead off long ball in the second, his second of the season. Memphis starter Scott McGregor battled his control in the third, hitting Melky Mesa and Eibner, both of whom would score on a bases loaded by single by Jimmy Paredes that preceded an RBI hit by Orlando that capped off a three-run uprising to give the visitors their first lead. The Chasers added another run in the fourth on a bases loaded walk to Fletcher that extended their advantage to 5-1.
McGregor was removed after allowing six hits, walking three and hitting three over four frames and was followed by Motte, the St Louis Cardinals reliever who is continuing his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Omaha starter John Lamb, who also underwent ligament replacement surgery earlier in his career, took a three-run lead in to the bottom of the fifth that was trimmed to 5-4 on a two-run homer by Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals top prospect.
Lamb lasted six innings during which he yielded three earned runs on four hits and four walks while fanning four. Michael Mariot took over in the seventh and surrendered a base hit to Greg Garcia that was followed by Grichuk’s second opposite field blast of the night that put the hosts back in front, 6-5.
The series continues Friday night with Omaha right-hander Sugar Ray Marimon taking the hill against Redbirds righty Boone Whiting.