On the verge of the Tacoma Rainiers losing their 12th game in 13 days, Luis Rodriguez instead sent his team into a euphoric celebration Friday at Cheney Stadium.
The second baseman blasted a two-out, two-run, walk-off home run, lifting the Rainiers to a 2-1 victory over the Tucson Padres.
“He’s the one guy who’s probably given us the most consistent quality at-bats,” Tacoma manager Daren Brown said. “He gets in a situation where he’s ahead in the count, can look for a pitch in a certain area and he can do what he did tonight.”
Rodriguez got the chance to win the game because Alex Liddi turned an 0-2 count into a two-out walk.
“It was a good at-bat for Liddi,” Brown said, “just to get Luis to the plate.”
Once Rodriguez stepped into the batter’s box against reliever Erik Hamren, he held off on a ball in the dirt and a high fastball before drilling his 10th homer this season.
“We didn’t have offense the last 17 innings,” Brown said. “We didn’t score (Thursday) night, shut out for eight innings tonight. Two-out walk, followed by a homer, that’s how quick sometimes things can turn around.”
Tacoma starter Steve Garrison didn’t get the win – reliever Brian Moran, who closed out the ninth, got the victory – but the left-hander turned in his best outing since being called up from Double-A Jackson in June.
In four previous starts for Tacoma, Garrison hadn’t allowed fewer than seven hits and gave up earned run totals of six, two, five and three in those starts.
Garrison threw a season-high eight innings, holding the Padres to one earned run, four hits and no walks while striking out four.
“I thought he kept (Tucson) off balance,” Brown said. “He got his off-speed (pitches) over the plate. More than anything, he mixed it up.
“When he does that he’s got a chance to do what he did tonight. As well as he pitched, we’d like to get him the win.”
Tucson shortstop Beamer Wells put the Padres ahead 1-0 in the top of the eighth inning when he drilled a solo home run to left field.
Right-handed reliever Carter Capps was called up to Tacoma from Double-A Jackson on Friday. With the Generals, Capps saved a Southern League-leading 21 games. He also posted a 1.26 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 50 innings. To make room for Capps, right-handed reliever Jandy Sena was sent to Jackson.
Left-hander Danny Hultzen (1-2, 4.33 ERA) will make his seventh start for Tacoma when the Rainiers open a five-game series at 7:05 p.m. today at Tucson. Hultzen will face left-hander Andrew Werner, who is making his Triple-A email@example.com 253-597-8271 blog.thenewstribune.com/preps @DougPaceyTNT