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Salt Lake Bees edge Redbirds in bottom of ninth

It seemed fitting when it fell to Terry Evans to make a game-winning play for the Salt Lake Bees in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday.

Evans had been the one to give Salt Lake an initial offensive spark when he drilled a home run on the team's first hit of the game. And the center fielder had no intention of leaving the plate without making something good happen.

"Once I got two strikes in there, I just wanted to put the ball in play with our guy on third," Evans said. "You never know what is going to happen if you put it in play."

What happened in this situation was exactly the kind of play Evans was looking for. He singled on a ground ball to Memphis pitcher Josh Kinney to drive in pinch runner Hainley Statia and cement a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Redbirds at Spring Mobile Ballpark.

It helped Salt Lake notch back-to-back victories for the first time since July 26 when they swept Portland in a doubleheader.

After the Bees endured two scoreless innings — and fell behind 1-0 when Brandon Yarbrough doubled to left field and later scored on a grounder from John Jay — Evans changed the trajectory of the game in dramatic fashion.

He led off the bottom of the third inning by belting a pitch over the left-field wall. Evans' homer ended up being duplicated by Chris Pettit an inning later when he led off with a blast past left-center field to give Salt Lake a 2-1 lead.

Those big runs — coupled with an impressive rally the Bees strung together a night earlier — have manager Bobby Mitchell sensing some good vibes being spread team-wide by his batters.

"Our offense is coming around," Mitchell said. "It's exciting for the club, too, when you're hitting. It gets everybody going — both pitching and defense."

Memphis rallied after Salt Lake staked out a 3-1 lead when Matt Brown scored on a wild pitch. The Redbirds evened things up at 3-3 in the eighth when Jay doubled to center field on a line drive and brought in Shane Robinson.

Jose Arredondo helped the Bees halt the rally an inning later when he struck out the first two batters he faced — leading to a quick three outs for Salt Lake. Those quick strikeouts, in turn, set the stage for Evans to deliver his game-ending heroics.

"That was huge for him to get those first two outs," Evans said. "If that lead-off guy gets on, that momentum is just going to be huge in their favor. It was nice for Arredondo to come in and not only get two strikeouts, but two quick strikeouts."

Arredondo's final-inning performance helped him earn his first victory from the mound this season.

BEES NOTES: Newly drafted Utah Jazz point guard Eric Maynor threw out the first pitch for Friday's game. ... Attendance was 8,686. ... The Bees have now belted five home runs in their last two games after not hitting any in the previous 12 games. ... Starting pitcher Mike MacDonald struck out four batters and gave up two runs on four hits in six innings.

e-mail: jcoon@desnews.com