Nick Gorneault has suffered from his share of ups and downs with his batting this summer. A home run on his first trip to the plate did much to erase those bad memories.

Gorneault's blast over the right field fence — his 60th home run in a Salt Lake uniform — moved him past Chad Rupp to become the franchise's new home run leader. It also gave the Bees enough room to withstand a late Fresno rally and escape Franklin Covey Field with a 5-4 victory Thursday night.

Setting a record feels sweeter for Gorneault after enduring a tough start this season. He made Anaheim's 40-man roster coming out of spring training but ended up back in Salt Lake right away. The outfielder quickly fell into a hitting slump and felt frustrated trying to dig out of it.

"The biggest thing was I wasn't helping my team win," Gorneault said. "I was in a situation where I could have helped the team win a few ball games early in the season but couldn't come through."

Things aren't like that now. Bees manager Brian Harper said Gorneault's overall play is a major reason for his team's recent success.

"He does so many other things than just hit," Harper said. "He runs the bases well. (Plays) defense. He's intense. Plays hard. He's a good player for this team."

Gorneault provided just one highlight in an explosive first inning. Terry Evans got things going early when he singled in Casey Smith for Salt Lake's first run. Once on base, Fresno could not keep Evans in one place. He stole consecutive bases before finally scoring on Juan Rivera's single.

By the time Wood followed Gorneault with another home run, Salt Lake owned a 5-0 lead and left Fresno scrambling to play catch-up.

William Bergolla's triple sparked a three-run Grizzlies' surge in the fifth. Tomas De La Rosa made it 5-4 three innings later, after driving home Justin Leone on a sacrifice fly.

Thursday's game was Bartolo Colon's second start during his current rehab assignment from a recent elbow injury. The 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner kept Fresno out of rhythm throughout his first four innings on the mound — striking out three batters and allowing three hits.

Colon lost his form a little in the fifth, giving up three runs and three more hits. Still, Harper sees progress since his first start against Colorado Springs last Saturday.

"It looked like he got a little tired in the fifth," Harper said. "But I thought he threw the ball a lot better than he did five days ago."

The Bees close out the regular season with a four-game series against Las Vegas beginning today. Salt Lake will remain at home to open the PCL playoffs against Sacramento next week.


E-mail: jcoon@desnews.com