The winds of change blew through Franklin Quest Field Monday - for just five innings - before the Salt Lake Buzz and Phoenix Firebirds resumed their offensive ways.
And for once, Salt Lake had the last say, a 9-7 victory to avoid a series sweep."We'll take it," said Buzz manager Scott Ullger. "We battled back off a pretty good pitcher. As good a pitcher as you'll see in this league."
After combining for 55 runs in three games, the squads appeared poised for a pitching duel as starters William Van Landingham of Phoenix (a strike demotee who is 8-2 this season with the San Francisco Giants) and Eddie Guardado of Salt Lake took control of the contest early.
Their efforts led to a 1-all deadlock after five innings before things began to swing in the sixth.
Phoenix struck first when Dax Jones delivered a Guardado offering past the outfield wall, scoring three runs, to put the Firebirds in front. After chasing the Salt Lake starter from the game, Phoenix added an additional run on a base-hit bunt by Paul Faries.
Trailing 5-1, the Buzz turned to RBI leader Bernardo Brito in the bottom of the inning and the slugger failed to disappoint - driving in a pair of runs with a double. Teammate Steve Dunn later scored Brito with a towering shot to the center field wall, which was misplayed by the Firebirds.
After watching its lead shrink to one run, Phoenix, which eventually relieved its starter as well, countered with a two-run double by first baseman Clay Bellinger in the seventh inning.
However, it wasn't enough as the Buzz rallied from the 7-4 deficit with a decisive five-run outburst in the bottom of the frame to assume control.
Juan DeLaRosa provided the final margin with a two-run single to compliment RBI shots by Jeff Carter, Dan Masteller and Scott Stahoviak.
"Juan has come up with some pretty big hits for us," Ullger acknowledged.
In earning the victory, reliever Dave Stevens recorded two shutout innings down the stretch.
Despite a subpar 25-27 record, the Buzz pulled to within a game of Northern Division-leading Calgary, which lost to Colorado Springs Monday, with the win.
"We've just got to keep concentrating on our games," said Ullger. "It's going to come down to the wire again."
Salt Lake finished one-half game behind Vancouver in the first half pennant race.
BUZZ BRIEFS - Phoenix slugger J.R. Phillips, who homered in six consecutive games against Salt Lake this season, will miss the balance of the Pacific Coast League season after breaking his left forearm. Phillips was injured in Saturday's 18-13 win over the Buzz . . . Firebirds manager Carlos Alfonso practiced with the Weber State football team in Ogden Monday morning. He is a close friend of coach Dave Arslanian . . . The Buzz open a four-game series with Las Vegas Tuesday.