BAKERSFIELD, CA (Press release) - The Bakersfield Blaze scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to take their first lead of the game before holding off the San Jose Giants to claim a 7-6 victory on Thursday evening at Sam Lynn Ballpark. The Giants put the potential tying and go-ahead runs into scoring position in the top of the ninth inning, but fell short in dropping the opener of the four-game series. With the loss, San Jose's record now sits at 33-21 while they maintain a four-game lead over the Modesto Nuts for the top spot in the first half North Division race.
Brandon Belt (3-for-3, 2 2B, 3 RBI) reached base in all five of his plate appearances and Jose Flores (3-for-5, 2 2B, RBI) added three hits, including a pair of doubles, to lead the Giants offensive attack. San Jose out-hit Bakersfield by a 14-8 margin in the defeat.
Trailing 7-5, the Giants mounted a rally in the top of the ninth inning as Ehire Adrianza drew a leadoff walk before Belt walked with one out. After Charlie Culberson struck out swinging for the second out of the frame, Johnny Monell singled sharply into right field plating Adrianza to bring San Jose to within one run. Drew Biery then walked to load the bases, but Blaze reliever Mark Hamburger induced Wendell Fairley to ground out to third base ending the game.
Eric Stolp (4-4) suffered the loss for the Giants despite pitching into the seventh inning in his third consecutive start. Stolp allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits over 6 1/3 innings with a pair of walks and three strikeouts.
San Jose carried a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh before Bakersfield's Tommy Mendonca began the inning with a home run to straightaway center field. After Mike Bianucci flied out, Andres James drew a walk and David Paisano singled to prompt a pitching change as David Quinowski (2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO) was summoned from the bullpen. Quinowski quickly struck out Davis Stoneburner, but then Engel Beltre delivered a clutch two-out hit when he singled into left field bringing home James with the tying run.
Chris Gradoville followed by drawing a walk to load the bases before John Whittleman grounded a single into right scoring both Paisano and Beltre to give the Blaze a 7-5 advantage.
Yoon-Hee Nam (1-0) was credited with his first victory of the season for Bakersfield after surrendering one run on two hits over 2 2/3 innings of relief. Hamburger recorded the last two outs of the contest to earn his fifth save.
The Giants initially took a 3-0 lead with a pair of runs in the first inning and another tally in the third. Singles from Juan Perez and Flores put runners on first and second with one out in the top of the first before Belt delivered an RBI single. Then with two outs, Blaze starting pitcher Wilfredo Boscan uncorked a wild pitch to score Flores. In the third, Adrianza doubled with one out and scored on Belt's two-out double.
Stolp didn't allow a hit in the first two innings, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the third as Bakersfield struck for three runs to tie the game. James led off with an infield single before Stoneburner reached on a one-out throwing error charged to Adrianza at shortstop. Beltre then hammered a double into the right center field gap to plate both runners. Beltre took third on the play when the second baseman Culberson threw wildly to the plate for an error before scoring the tying run on Gradoville's groundout.
San Jose retook the lead in the top of the fifth when Flores lined a double into right field to score Perez, who had singled earlier in the inning. Then in the seventh, consecutive doubles from Flores and Belt produced another run to give the Giants a 5-3 advantage.
Stolp held the Blaze off the scoreboard over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before Bakersfield took the lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Perez (2-for-5), Adrianza (2-for-4, 2B) and Fairley (2-for-5, SB) also produced multi-hit games at the plate for San Jose.
Notes: The Giants are still 9-4 against Bakersfield this season ... San Jose fell to 6-10 in series openers, including 1-7 on the road ... Flores and Belt raised their season batting averages to .383 and .376 respectively ... The Giants' three errors matched a season-high ... San Jose (25-2) lost for only the second time this year when leading after six innings.
On Deck: The Giants and Blaze continue their four-game series on Friday evening with first pitch at Sam Lynn Ballpark scheduled for 7:30 PM. Eric Surkamp (2-1, 2.62 ERA) is slated to start on the mound for San Jose while Bakersfield is expected to counter with Michael Main (2-2, 4.01 ERA). The game can be heard live on www.sjgiants.com.