Sunday's 12-8 victory over the league-leading Tucson Sidewinders couldn't have come at a better time for the Salt
Lake Buzz for two reasons: First, the struggling Buzz (7-8) needed a victory after Saturday's 14-point loss; and second, righthander Ricky Bones needed to see the fruits of three previous starts that produced nothing but an 0-1 record.Heading into Sunday's contest, the Buzz had won just two games in their last seven. And Bones had a 4.11 earned-run average in his three previous starts, having allowed five runs in his loss but zero and three runs in his two no decisions, with little run support.
On Sunday, the offense finally produced.
"When you get a game pitched like Ricky did for 6 or 7 innings, it makes it a whole lot easier on your offense," Salt Lake manager Phil Roof said.
Esteban Beltre and Chad Rupp provided the power by going 2-for-5 with three RBI each in Salt Lake's 11-hit outing, and Bones scattered just four hits and allowed three earned runs while striking out five in his seven innings of work to earn his first victory of the season.
"He's had good outings every time, and we finally gave him a chance to win a game," Roof said.
The Sidewinders had upped their league-high batting average to .334 with a 20-hit performance two nights ago, but Bones held them in check, and Roof wasn't expecting anything less from his seven-year major league veteran.
"We changed our pitching plan, and he (Bones) followed it well. He changed speeds well and moved the ball around and kept the ball out of the high part of the strike zone," Roof said. "He's one of those guys that can do it. He has enough experience at the major-league level, and he pitched a game like we needed."
Salt Lake took advantage of poor Tucson ptiching in the second inning as Brian Buchanan reached on an error, and Corey Koskie and Jeff Ferguson drew walks to load the bases. Marc Lewis, who was struggling with a .122 batting average, singled home Buchanan and Koskie and three hitters later Beltre doubled home two more runs to give the Buzz the 4-0 lead.
The Sidewinders finally found a seam in Bones' armour as Danny Klassen singled home Hensley Meulens in the sixth to trim the lead to 4-1. In fact, Bones retired the side in order for the first three innings before surrendering his first hit of the game in the fourth inning.
The Buzz answered the Sidewinders' run with six of their own in the bottom of the sixth. After Salt Lake loaded the bases, Chris Latham and Beltre singled, and Jon Shave was hit by a pitch to drive in another run. Rupp added the big blow with a bases-clearing double to up Salt Lake's lead to 10-1.
Tucson chipped away with two runs in the seventh on a two-run homer by Tom Wilson. Then Tucson added three more in the eighth to cut the lead to 10-6. The Buzz added two runs in the bottom of the eighth and the Sidewinders added two runs in the top of the ninth.
Behind Beltre and Rupp, Shave was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Wilson and Tim Florez had two RBIs each, both coming on homers.
The two clubs sqaure off Monday at 7 p.m. in the third game of the four-game series. LHP Dan Serafini (0-1, 3.60) will battle RHP Brad Cornett (1-0, 4.85).
BEE LINES: Before Sunday's relief appearance where he gave up one hit, Todd Ritchie's previous 11 relief outs were strikeouts . . . After surrendering 20 hits Saturday, the Buzz pitching staff fell from second in the league to fifth with a combined 4.34 ERA.