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S.L. blows lead, falls out of first

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PORTLAND — Salt Lake relief pitcher Dusty Bergman coughed up a two-run lead as the Portland Beavers beat the Stingers 5-4 on Thursday. The loss drops the Stingers out of first place in the PCL's Northern Division.

After five decent innings from Salt Lake starting pitcher Chris Hunter, it took Bergman less than one inning to erase that work. Hunter left with the Stingers leading 4-2, but Bergman made a forgettable relief appearance to undo that advantage.

First, he allowed a two-run homer to shortstop Jesse Garcia, who's been hitting .194 with Portland. Two batters later, Bergman gave up a solo home run to Josh Barfield, which handed the Beavers their first lead of the game.

Bergman was solid during the early months of the season, but he's struggled mightily during August, and those problems continued against Portland.

Things got off to a decent enough start for Salt Lake, thanks to the bat of left-fielder Nick Gorneault.

The Stingers, including Gorneault, wasted a bases-loaded situation with less than two outs in the first inning, but the Stingers' left-fielder made sure they didn't make the same mistake two innings later.

With the bases loaded and one out, Gorneault crushed a grand-slam home run, which sailed over a 40-foot wall in left field.

The grand slam, Salt Lake's first since May 21, increased Gorneault's team-leading totals for home runs and RBIs. He now has 21 and 85, respectively.

Trailing 4-0, Portland scored once in the third and fourth innings to cut Salt Lake's lead in half.

After allowing a grand slam to Gorneault, Portland starter Chris Oxspring settled down and got into a groove. At one point, he retired 10-straight batters. Oxspring threw seven innings and scattered six hits to notch the victory.

Top performance: Portland's Josh Barfield goes 3-for-4 with two RBI's and a one-run home run to pace the Beavers.