WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – One big inning.
That’s all it took for the Tacoma Rainiers to claim a 7-5 victory over the Sacramento River Cats on Monday night, earning a split of the four-game series between division leaders.
Tacoma scored all seven runs in the top of the fourth inning, with six of them scoring on two-out hits against Sacramento starter Andrew Werner.
Justin Smoak got the rally started with one out, drilling a long double that hit near the top of the fence in left-center field, 380 feet from home plate.
Carlos Peguero followed with a broken-bat RBI single, making the score 1-1.
Stefen Romero singled sharply to center, and Jason Jaramillo walked with two outs to load the bases.
Next came three straight extra-base hits, with each bringing in a pair of runs. Robert Andino doubled down the left field line, Abraham Almonte doubled to left field, and Franklin Gutierrez pulled a deep homer down the left-field line.
“It’s important to do that,” said Tacoma manager John Stearns. “If you’re going to win, you need to come up with those kinds of hits with two outs.”
James Paxton had his best start since early April. The left-hander lasted six innings, giving up four singles and one unearned run. He limited his walks to two, while striking out five.
“Paxton went through six innings really quickly,” said Stearns. “His fastball command was great, he was down in the zone and working ahead in the count.”
Paxton (4-5) earned the win with his 98-pitch effort. He needed the strong outing after he had allowed 27 runs in 23 innings over his previous five starts.
Sacramento rallied with two outs in the ninth, scoring three runs and putting the tying runners on base. Luke Montz hit a deep drive to left field, but Dustin Ackley hauled it in on the warning track to end the game.
Tacoma shortstop Brad Miller did not play and is day to day with an injury to the index finger on his right (throwing) hand. … Nate Tenbrink played shortstop for the third time in his career, and the first time since the last day of the 2009 season when he was with Class-A Clinton.
The road trip moves to Colorado Springs for a four-game series, with the opening game at 6:05 (PDT) Tuesday. Tacoma is scheduled to start Erasmo Ramirez (2-1, 0.87 ERA) against Cory Riordan (4-1, 5.18) of Colorado Springs.Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.