DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Big hitting and costly errors were the order of the night as the Dunedin Blue Jays capitalized on a pair of second inning miscues to hand the Charlotte Stone Crabs an 8-6 loss on Thursday at Dunedin Stadium.
Despite a grand slam home run off the bat of rehabbing Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Matt Joyce, the Stone Crabs could not claw their way back from a deficit that once stood at 8-1. Charlotte has now lost the first two games of a nine-game road trip and dropped three consecutive contests overall.
Things got out of control for Stone Crabs starter Frank De Los Santos in the second inning, when a fielding error by third baseman Greg Sexton opened the frame and paved the way for a three-run rally by the Blue Jays.
With two men aboard in that third inning, Brian Van Kirk laced a double to right that chase home the game's first run. The scoring on the play would not stop there, however, as Anthony Scelfo's cut-off throw skidded past shortstop Tim Beckham at the second base bag and rolled all the way into the left field corner. That error allowed both a second runner to score and Van Kirk to circle the bases, making it 3-0 Blue Jays.
Dunedin continued their scoring by adding single runs in the third and fourth innings, before putting up their second three-run frame of the night in the fifth. Travis d'Arnaud's run-scoring double and a two-run homer by Mike McCade opened up an 8-1 advantage for the Jays.
Joyce's slam at the expense of Dunedin starter Andrew Liebel came as an immediate counterpunch in the top of the sixth. Liebel had struck out Joyce in two prior at-bats before the Charlotte designated hitter grooved the bases loaded clout to bring the Stone Crabs within three runs.
Charlotte added another run in the seventh on catcher Matt Spring's third homer of the year, a towering blast that cleared the left field wall and made it an 8-6 game.
The Blue Jays bullpen answered the call from that point on. Set-up man Alan Farina pitched a scoreless eighth inning before Matt Daly slammed the door in the ninth for his 14th save of the season.
De Los Santos (4-3) surrendered eight runs - six earned - on eight hits, walking one and striking out four. It marked the third start in a row in which the Charlotte lefty has surrendered seven or more runs.
Liebel (4-4) did not fair much better, but his defense turned in an error free night in the field. The right-hander lasted six innings and allowed five earned runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out three.
Charlotte (24-22) slipped into third place in the Florida State League South Division following the loss. Though the division leading Bradenton Marauders likewise lost on Thursday, the Palm Beach Cardinals picked up a win to break the second place tie with the Stone Crabs.
This series continues on Friday as the Stone Crabs send Matt Moore (0-5) to the mound, still searching for his first win of the season. Righty reliever Chad Beck (0-1) will get a spot start for Dunedin. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m.