Brent Sakurai‘s fourth home run of the season — a solo shot to left-center field — gave the Gateway Grizzlies a 1-0 lead in the first inning Friday, but they allowed four unanswered runs in the middle innings in a 5-2 loss to the Florence Freedom at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
Gateway (21-31) lost its second straight game and fell to 0-8 against Florence (36-17) this season and 5-27 (.156) against the Freedom since the start of 2017.
Zak Taylor pulled the Grizzlies back within two runs with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning after Florence had scored two in the fourth inning on a Ricky Ramirez Jr. two-run homer and two more in the top of the fifth.
Taylor’s single drove in Anthony Ray, who made his return to the Grizzlies’ lineup after missing nearly a month with a finger injury he sustained June 16 on a dive back into first base on a pick-off attempt.
Ray joined Sakurai and Taylor with multi-hit games for the Grizzlies.
Reign Letkeman (1-2) took his second loss in a row. Gateway had previously won each of his first four starts. Letkeman allowed four runs (all earned) on four hits over six innings and struck out a career-high seven batters. He had set a career high with six strikeouts in his previous start, July 3 against Evansville.
The Grizzlies have lost 10 straight series against Florence — not counting a pair of series splits at home in 2018 — and will have to win each of their next two games to avoid an 11th straight.
Gateway and Florence will continue their three-game series with a 7:05 p.m. CDT first pitch Saturday. Dominic Topoozian (4-3, 2.97) is scheduled to start for the Grizzlies against Freedom southpaw Scott Sebald (2-1, 4.06).