Sonny Gray (5-4) snapped a two-game losing streak, allowing three runs, one earned on seven hits in 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts and five walks.
"The offense came out and was able to be productive early, which was big, because I didn't throw my best game tonight," Gray said.
Connor Harrell's grand-slam homer in the bottom of the second staked the Commodores to a 4-0 lead. Andrew Giobbi led off with a single, Jason Esposito walked and Curt Casali reached on an infield single before Harrell hit a line-drive homer to right to clear the bases.
"Connor jumping on that fastball and hitting it the other way, that was good for him, and good for our team," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "It kind of released some energy, and it was really good for our team to get us going, and to score first." Corbin said.
The Tigers came back with two runs in the third to cut the lead in half to 4-2. Dan Gamache doubled and scored on Justin Fradejas single to center. Fradejas then scored on Trent Mummey's fly ball to left field that Bryan Johns dropped with two outs in the frame.
VU responded with four more runs in the third to extend the lead to 8-2. Bryan Johns led off with a walk and moved to third on Aaron Westlake's single through the right side. Giobbi's sacrifice fly to center plated Johns for the first run in the frame. Jason Esposito singled to left to end the night of Tiger starter Cole Nelson. Zach Blatt came on and walked Curt Casali walked to load the bases and then walked Harrell to score another run. Joe Loftus singled to left to bring in another and Anthony Gomez grounded out to the right side to score the fourth run.
The Tigers scored an unearned run in the sixth on a passed ball, but again the Commodores responded, this time with two runs on a two-out single by Jason Esposito to make it 10-3. Aaron Westlake singled with two outs and moved to third on a fielding error by third baseman Dan Gamache on a grounder by Andrew Giobbi.
Loftus' solo homer in the seventh extended the lead to 11-3. It was his fifth homer of the season, a new single season high besting the four he hit a year ago.
Harrell ended the night with two hits and five RBI, with Westlake, Esposito, Casali and Loftus each adding two hits in 12-hit attack.
Auburn added three runs in the ninth on a RBI double by Brian Fletcher and a two-run homer by Hunter Morris off of Richie Goodenow.
Cole Nelson (4-3) allowed seven earned runs on six hits in 2.1 innings with two walks and a strikeout in the losing effort.
Dan Gamache and Brian Fletcher each had two hits to lead Auburn.
The Commodores and Tigers will play the second game of three game set tomorrow at 2 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Jack Armstrong (5-0, 3.43) will take the mound for VU, while Auburn's starter is to be determined.
Auburn 002 001 003-6 (10)2 Vanderbilt 044 002 10x-10(12)2Nelson, Blatt (3), Kelley (7) and Caldwell, Jenkins. Gray, Goodenow (7) and Giobbi. W- Gray 5-4, L- Nelson 4-3. Sv- None. HR: VU: Harrell (2), Loftus (5)