Rainiers finish long trip with 8-3 loss to Sky Sox

Contributing writerJune 21, 2013 

— The Colorado Springs Sky Sox lead all of professional baseball in hitting triples, as the Rainiers were reminded in an 8-3 loss Friday night.

The Sky Sox tied a franchise record with four triples in one game, boosting their season total to 51. First baseman Ben Paulsen hit two of them, increasing his season total to eight.

It was an excess of three-base hits for the Sky Sox, who did not need them. Colorado Springs starter Drew Pomeranz pitched seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits. Pomeranz (8-1) moved into a tie for the Pacific Coast League lead in wins.

The victory gave Colorado Springs the series win, three games to one. It was the first series loss for Tacoma since the Rainiers were swept in Oklahoma City from May 7-10.

Tacoma manager John Stearns was not happy with the way the series ended. The Rainiers held an 11-4 lead in the middle of the sixth inning Thursday, did not score again, and lost 12-11. The Rainiers scored three runs in the final 12 innings of the series.

“After the fifth inning (Thursday) night, we just kind of turned off the motor,” said Stearns. “We hardly scored, and we lost two games. We didn’t bring our offense to the park tonight in a field that is hitter-friendly.”

One bright spot for Tacoma was the return of shortstop Brad Miller, who missed four games with an injured finger on his throwing hand. Miller connected for an RBI double in the fifth inning, extending his hitting streak to 17 games.

Miller’s hit made it 3-2, but the Sky Sox scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth against Rainiers starter Brian Sweeney (7-3). Two-out hits brought in the runs: an RBI single by Ryan Wheeler, followed by Paulsen’s second triple.

Tacoma (44-32) completed the trip with a 6-6 record, and the Rainiers are still in first place – although the lead is down to 1 1/2 games over Colorado Springs, and three games over Salt Lake.

“I’m not satisfied with a 6-6, especially since we were in a position to do better than that,” said Stearns. “We need to get back into the winning mode again when we get home.”

SHORT HOPS

The Mariners announced that Taijuan Walker is being promoted from Double-A Jackson, and will start for the Rainiers on Tuesday at Cheney Stadium. Walker was 4-7 with a 2.46 ERA, while leading the Southern League with 96 strikeouts. … injured starter Danny Hultzen (rotator cuff strain) is scheduled to pitch five innings in Arizona on Saturday, and if all goes well he will start in Tacoma on Thursday.

ON TAP

The Rainiers open an 11-game homestand on Saturday night, with a 7:05 game against Fresno. Tacoma starts James Paxton (4-5, 5.18) against Fresno’s Mitch Lively (3-1, 7.16).

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster of the Tacoma Rainiers.

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