OGDEN — For the first three innings in Wednesday's Pioneer League contest between the Ogden Raptors and rival Orem, the bases pretty much gathered dust.

Ogden starter Michael Gardner retired the side in order in the first three frames, and his counterpart, Orem's Young-il Jung, allowed just one base runner in the same time period — and that was via an error.

It all changed in the fourth inning, however, for both pitchers, but Gardner was more fortunate than Jung.

The Raptors scored six runs on four hits in the fourth as they cruised to an 8-1 victory over the Owlz, snapping a two-game losing streak and a four-game slide to Orem.

Gardner (1-0) lost the perfect game as Jerry Gonzalez and Gordie Gronkowski singled, but he left both runners stranded.

After Ogden's Jaime Pedroza grounded out to start the bottom of the fourth, the next six hitters reached base. One eventually scored on a wild pitch, another on a single by Alex Garabedian and two each scored on a double by Travis Vetters and a single by Jovanny Rosario.

"(Jung) was throwing strikes, and we were patient and got pitches we could hit and didn't try to do too much, and guys started getting on," Vetters said. "We started getting to him and guys started putting balls in the gaps and scoring runs."

Gardner's pitching performance was just what the Raptors needed, especially against the Owlz.

"Gardner was great," Vetters said. "They were going back and forth and Gardner one-upped him every time."

In Orem's three previous wins over the Raptors, it had double-digit hits in each game and recorded double-digits in runs in all but one game.

In picking up his first win of the season, Gardner, who signed as a free agent in 2006, didn't allow a run on just two hits in six innings while dropping his ERA from 1.59 to 0.77.

In his first start of the year, in the season home-opener with Casper, Gardner allowed eight runs on 10 hits, but only one of those runs was earned in 5 2/3 innings.

In all, Gardner, Kalen Gearhart and Johnny Caraballo, held the Owlz, the second-best hitting team in the league, to just six hits.

The Raptors lost the bid for the first shutout of the season in the eighth when Gronkowski singled home Ryan Kiniry.

The Raptors, who had just six hits in the game, added a run in the sixth on a solo homer by Jaime Ortiz and another in the seventh when Jaime Pedroza's sacrifice fly scored Rosario, who tripled to start the inning.

The Raptors hit the road for three at Casper beginning today, while the Owlz host Pioneer League South Division leader Idaho Falls.


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com