Bullpen meltdown squanders strong start for Sky Sox

July 26, 2013 Updated: July 26, 2013 at 11:20 pm
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The Friday night fireworks came early for the Fresno Grizzlies, who scored seven in the top of the ninth inning to rally for a 10-6 win over Colorado Springs Friday night.

The outburst, only the fourth time since 1994 the Sky Sox allowed more than seven at home in the final inning, spoiled a strong performance by new Sky Sox starter Sean Gallagher before 5,964 fans at Security Service Field. Many stayed for the weekly postgame fireworks.

Thanks to three errors, only two of the seven Fresno runs were earned against Colorado Springs closer Logan Kensing, who managed only one out.

Reliever Mike McClendon retired his two batters to keep the PCL game within reach, but the Sky Sox could not mount a rally in bottom of the ninth against the Grizzlies (48-59). It was the fifth loss in a row for the Sky Sox (54-51).

The go-ahead runs scored on a throwing error by Kensing, who saw his first offering clobbered for a solo home run to right field by Roger Kieshnick. The Sky Sox closer (13 saves) never found his footing after that knock made it 6-4. It was Kensing's first blown save opportunity this season.

Before Kensing's struggles, the Sky Sox's two most consistent hitters delivered as the hosts scored six runs, only three shy of the nine scored in four losses at Sacramento earlier this week.

Second baseman Charlie Culberson connected on a double into center field as Josh Rutledge started to steal second, allowing the Sky Sox shortstop to score for a 5-2 lead. It was Culberson's 64th RBI.

Ryan Wheeler collected his 63rd RBI three pitches later to score Culberson to give the hosts a 6-2 lead against Fresno reliever Brett Bochy, the son of longtime Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Gallagher had set down the previous eight before Kieshnick drove home Grizzlies first baseman Brett Pill to make it 4-2 as the veteran Major Leaguer (91 games) found a nice groove through the second and third innings.

Colorado Springs center fielder Tyler Colvin helped Gallagher work seven solid innings by making two diving catches on two flares into shallow center.

The grabs, one in the fifth and another in the sixth, kept Fresno from chipping away at the Sky Sox's two-run lead. Gallagher finished with two earned runs with a walk and three strikeouts.

Reliever Rob Scahill, activated on Friday, made his first appearance since July 1, allowing an earned run in the eighth for the final margin.

Colorado Springs took a 3-1 lead on RBI hits by Culberson, Ryan Wheeler and Tim Wheeler, who drove home Ryan Wheeler for the second at-bat in a row to make it 4-1 in the third.

Pill drove in Nick Noonan for a 1-0 lead.


Monday's series finale will start at 12:05 p.m. to help the Sky Sox make a 7 p.m. flight to New Orleans for its next road trip. . The last time an opponent scored at least seven runs in the ninth inning against the host Sky Sox was Aug. 23, 2011 by Salt Lake (nine runs) in a 23-11 Bees win. The other two home losses were seven by Phoenix (Sept. 3, 1994) in a 15-9 Firebirds win and nine runs by Iowa on May 21, 2001 in a 12-7 victory for the Cubs. . Outfielder Corey Dickerson was called up to the Rockies. He took the spot of left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz. Dickerson has batted .371 (117-for-315) with 21 doubles, 14 triples, 11 home runs, 50 RBIs and 61 runs in Colorado Springs. He leads the Pacific Coast League in average and triples. . Right-hander Collin McHugh will start for the Rockies on Saturday. ... The Rockies scouted former Giants closer Brian Wilson, 31, on Thursday. They are one of a reported eight teams interested in the free agent righty, who is throwing 90-93 mph fastballs after his second Tommy John surgery. . Gallagher, who signed with the Rockies on May 14, was the 2005 Cubs minor-league pitcher of the year. He last threw in the bigs (Pirates) in 2010.

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