A fast start did not equal success for the Salt Lake Bees as it opened up an eight-game homestand facing the Oklahoma RedHawks for the first time this year.
The Bees fell to Oklahoma 7-4 at Franklin Covey Field on Tuesday evening and the loss whittled Salt Lake's division lead down to five games making it the slimmest margin for the club since mid-April.
Nick Adenhart struggled in making his first start since the PCL all-star break. Adenhart fanned five batters overall, but allowed six earned runs on seven hits. Since starting the season 4-0 with an earned run average of 0.87, his record has dropped to 6-10 and his ERA has soared to 6.19.
"He was struggling most of the game fighting himself I thought," Bees manager Bobby Mitchell said. "He has trouble limiting the damage in the innings."
Adenhart initially got things moving in a good direction for the Bees. He struck out three of the four batters he faced at the top of the first inning.
Salt Lake made it stand up later in the inning by bolting out to a large lead. Kendry Morales singled to centerfield to drive in Freddy Sandoval for the Bees' first run. Sandoval put himself in scoring position when he smacked the ball against the right field wall to get to second base. The Bees stretched it to a 4-0 when Adam Pavkovich doubled to the corner of left field with the bases loaded. Pavkovich got thrown out while trying to reach third on the play, but still managed to drive Morales, Brandon Wood, and Matt Brown all home.
It would be all the offense Salt Lake could muster and Mitchell could not find a suitable explanation for the drought.
"It's hard to understand," Mitchell said. "I can only speculate that (when) we get ahead and not too long after we fall behind, (we) lose our edge."
Salt Lake's lead quickly unraveled in the third when Adenhart followed two strong innings with a shaky one. Oklahoma used a pair of home runs to get back into the game. Nelson Cruz popped a ball out of left field to finally put the RedHawks on the board. Former Viewmont High standout Nate Gold made it 4-3 when he blasted a line drive past the right field wall driving in both himself and ex-University of Utah infielder Chris Shelton.
Oklahoma evened it when German Duran singled to send in John Mayberry to cap things off. The RedHawks finally took a 6-4 lead an inning later after Joaquin Arias banged a triple to drive in one run and scored another of his own on a sacrifice fly by Gerald Laird.
Mitchell is convinced if Salt Lake plays too many more games like this it could ruin a season that started out so promising."If we don't get out of it soon, this lead we have is going to go down the drain," Mitchell said.