PORTLAND – It seemed Saturday that if it wasn’t a home run the Tacoma Rainiers hit, it was a single to center field.
Both helped as the Rainiers scored five runs early en route to a 7-4 win against the Portland Beavers at PGE Park.
“Putting five runs on the board in the first three innings was obviously big,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said. “It gives your starting pitcher a little bit more breathing room.”
The Rainiers (35-32) collected seven of their 15 hits on singles to center field, and Guillermo Quiroz, Mike Wilson and Matt Mangini all hit home runs for Tacoma.
“The home runs were big because they came at the bottom of the lineup, which has been doing a nice job and they did again tonight,” Brown said.
After back-to-back singles to center by Jack Hannahan and Jack Wilson to open the game for the Rainiers, Brad Nelson hit a high shot to shallow left field. Portland left fielder Brad Chalk, shortstop Sean Kazmar and third baseman Anthony Contreras converged on the ball, but it bounced between them as Hannahan sprinted around third base on his way home for the game’s first run.
The Rainiers didn’t waste much time padding their lead. Greg Halman led off the second inning with a ground-rule double to right before Wilson crushed his two-run home run to left. Mangini later scored on a fielder’s choice by Kazmar to give the Rainiers a 4-0 lead.
The shutout didn’t last long, though. After Portland’s Craig Cooper singled to center field to lead off the bottom half of the second, Chris Stewart hit a two-run home run to left field to cut Tacoma’s lead in half.
After Quiroz, who went 3-for-5 with a run scored, hit a long home run to left field in the third, Portland’s Luis Durango answered with a run scored on a fielder’s choice.
In the seventh, Halman hit an RBI double to left field off Beavers reliever Scott Munter to give the Rainiers a 6-3. Portland (25-43) countered with a run of its own when Chalk delivered a shot to shallow left field for an RBI double to cut Tacoma’s lead.
The run spelled the end of the night for Rainiers starter Luke French, as reliever Levale Speigner entered the game with two outs. French gave up seven hits and four runs in 62/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one. He earned the win to improve to 7-2. Speigner earned his sixth save.
“French wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen, but he battled through some innings and kept the damage to a minimum,” Brown said. “Then Speigner came in and shut them down the rest of the way.”
Mangini’s solo home run to lead off the eighth inning scord Tacoma’s final run.
The third game of the series is at 2:05 p.m. today. Doug Fister (0-0, 0.0 ERA), will start for Tacoma on a rehab appearance, and Portland will counter with Cesar Carrillo (4-4, 4.61).