Salt Lake Stingers manager Dino Ebel joked with Chris Prieto, saying if he would have spent five extra minutes in the weight room his fly out to the warning track in left field Tuesday would have been a home run.

As it turns out, Prieto got the last laugh by delivering a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the Stingers to a 12-9 come-from-behind victory over the Portland Beavers.

"He proved me wrong there in the ninth. He had plenty of power," Ebel said. "We were just looking for him to make contact and drive it up the middle. He (Portland pitcher Brad Baker) left a change-up out over the plate and the little guy got it."

The homer was Prieto's first of the year.

"I was looking change-up, and he's got a good one," said Prieto, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.

Salt Lake had a 6-4 lead heading into the eighth inning, but the Beavers touched up Salt Lake's William Collazo for five runs in his first appearance of the year.

The Stingers, who have made a living of posting come-from-behind victories, scored four runs in the ninth to earn the win.

Ryan Budde singled, Luke Allen doubled and Nick Gournealt walked to load the bases with nobody out. After David Matranga struck out, Casey Smith delivered a sacrifice fly to score Budde, and Prieto followed with the big fly to win the game.

"What a great comeback," Ebel said. "This team never gives up. It's an awesome feeling in the ninth."

Chris Bootcheck, in his first start since returning from the Angels, threw 59 pitches in three innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out four.

Joel Peralta earned his third win of the year in 1 1/3 innings of work. He allowed a run on three hits while striking out two.

Prieto, playing in front of 12,179 fans (mostly elementary and junior high students), went 2-for-4 with a triple, homer and four RBIs, while Casey Kotchman lifted his average over .200 by going 2-for-5 with four RBIs.

Adam Kennedy, in his third game since joining the team for a rehab assignment, went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

With the victory the Stingers improve to 12-6 and increase their lead to 2 1/2 games over second-place Portland (10-9) in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division.

Baker, who was among the league leaders in saves with five, dropped to 0-1 with the loss.

The 10:30 a.m. start didn't seem to bother either team Tuesday. The Beavers scored a run in the top of the first inning, but the Stingers answered with three in the bottom half, thanks in large part to Kotchman's two-run single.

Portland trimmed the lead to 3-2 with a run in the second, only to see the Stingers add two more to take the 5-2 lead.

Portland tacked on two in the sixth to whittle the lead to 5-4, but a sacrifice fly by Allen in the bottom half of the inning increased the Stingers' lead to two before Portland added five in the eighth.

The Stingers have the day off today before continuing the homestand with a four-game series with Tacoma. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Franklin Covey Field.


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com