— Kyle Jensen’s dramatic, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference on Tuesday at Bragan Field, as the Jacksonville Suns (30-26) earned a much-needed 6-5 win over the Mobile BayBears (30-28).
With Jacksonville trailing 5-4 in the eighth, Jensen stepped to the plate against BayBears reliever Kevin Munson (0-2) and blasted his tenth home run of the season well over the left-field wall to give the Suns a crucial win in front of 3,183 fans at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
“We needed to stop the bleeding,” said Suns manager Andy Barkett after his team stopped a brief two-game losing streak. “We’ve been scuffling to score runs, scuffling to get big hits. [Jensen] has been swinging the bat real well lately, even though he hasn’t had a lot to show for it, and he got a big home run to put us ahead.”
Nathan Eovaldi made the start on the mound for the Suns as part of a Major League rehab assignment in anticipation of his return to the Miami Marlins. Eovaldi allowed three runs in the top half of the first but settled in afterwards, finishing his outing after four and two thirds innings. Eovaldi surrendered four runs, all earned, striking out four and walking four in the process.
“I felt good, the shoulder feels fine overall,” Eovaldi said. “At the beginning of the game I was just a little bit excited. I’m glad to be back out there. I was rushing things a little bit, but that settled down later.”
Eovaldi was opposed by a fellow Major Leaguer, as Daniel Hudson took the mound for the Mobile BayBears as part of a Major League rehab assignment for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hudson threw just two innings for Mobile, giving up Jacksonville’s first run in the bottom of the second on Noah Perio’s ground ball fielder’s choice.
“I felt okay,” Hudson said following the outing. “It could have gone a little bit better than it did, but for the most part it was pretty good.
“[The plan was] just to see how I felt, play it by ear, and go from there.”
Down 4-1 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Suns got closer against Hudson’s successor, Derek Eitel, on Daniel Pertusati’s solo home run. Pertusati’s second long ball of the season reduced the deficit to two, but the BayBears got the run back two innings later on Garrett Weber’s tape-measure home run off Jordan Conley (1-0).
The Suns were behind 5-2 when they rallied in the bottom of the eighth. Pinch-hitter Ryan Fisher reached on an error and promptly scored on Jake Marisnick’s RBI triple. Logan Morrison, also playing with Jacksonville on a Major League rehab assignment, followed by knocking Marisnick in with a base hit to left. Morrison finished 2-for-4 with an RBI on the evening, his final hit making the score 5-4.
Jensen’s home run came in the very next at-bat, and Arquimedes Caminero allowed just one base runner in a scoreless ninth inning, earning his first save of the 2013 season.
The Suns, now behind the Mississippi Braves by just one game in the Southern League South division, go for their second straight win over Mobile on Wednesday behind right-hander Robert Morey (2-1, 3.14). The BayBears will attempt to secure a series victory with left-hander David Holmberg (1-3, 2.84) on the mound. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.