The Salt Lake Bees returned home Monday night, which may not have been a good thing.
Salt Lake, which was the best home team in the Pacific Coast League the first half of the season, has had better luck on the road of late.
Tuesday night was the latest example. The Fresno Grizzlies, the worst team in the PCL's Pacific Conference, handed the Bees a 12-3 loss at Franklin Covey Field. It was Salt Lake's eighth loss in their last 13 home games.
The Bees, meanwhile, have been much better on the road of late. Monday's win at Colorado Springs was their 11th win in their last 16 road games.
"I wish I could figure that out,' said Bees manager Brian Harper of the recent phenomenon of the Bees playing better on the road. "Then I could do something about it. I'd be the greatest manager ever if I could figure out why sometimes you play good and sometimes you don't."
The loss dropped the Bees to 71-52 on the season, while Fresno improved to 51-73. Salt Lake now leads the PCL's Pacific Northern Division by 4-1/2 games over Tacoma with 19 remaining.
When the Bees gave up a pair of runs in the first inning on Tuesday, it marked the 14th time in their past 19 home games that they have given up at least one run in the opening frame. Bees starter Nathan Bland gave up another run in the third on a wild pitch, as the Grizzlies opened up a 3-0 lead.
Salt Lake got on the board in the third inning when Jason Aspito hit his second homer in as many days, this one a solo shot to right, cutting the gap to 3-1. But Fresno scored two more in the top of the fifth to take a 5-1 lead.
The Bees had a chance to climb back into the game in the fourth, but let a golden opportunity get away.
Mike Eylward walked, moved to third on a double by Nick Gourneault and scored on a wild pitch to cut the gap to 5-2 with one out. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Aspito, who once again pounded a bomb over the fence in right field — only this time it was foul. Aspito ended up striking out and Ryan Budde popped out, as the Bees left the bases loaded.
Salt Lake also left the bases loaded in the eighth inning, as Fresno right fielder Abraham Nunez made a diving catch to end the inning.
"We couldn't come up with the big hit,' said Harper.
The Grizzlies finished with 19 hits off four Salt Lake pitchers.
The same two teams will be in action for the second game of the four-game series tonight at 7 p.m. Bees right-hander Kasey Olenberger (5-3, 5.53 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against Fresno lefty Patrick Misch (1-2, 4.37).
BEES WAX: When the parent Los Angeles Angels recalled Bees outfielder Reggie Willits on Monday, he left with a PCL-best 30-game on-base streak intact. During that streak, Willits had a .476 on-base percentage . . . Despite the loss, the Bees have a 10-3 mark against the Grizzlies this season . . . Bees first baseman Dallas McPherson sat out the game and will likely miss one or two more with sore oblique muscles . . . Attendance for Tuesday's game was 4,475.