FRESNO, Calif. — With three big swings by Tacoma designated hitter Rich Poythress, the Rainiers’ six-game losing streak became a thing of the past.
Poythress hit a three-run homer, a solo homer and a two-run triple as Tacoma upended the Fresno Grizzlies, 11-5, on Saturday.
The Rainiers needed the win to remain in first place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific-North Division as second-place Salt Lake and third-place Colorado Springs each won to remain one and two games behind Tacoma, respectively.
Fresno took an early 2-0 lead as Jackson Williams hit an RBI single and Brett Pill hit a long home run against Tacoma starter Blake Beavan.
After managing two singles in the first three innings against Fresno starter Mike Kickham, the Rainiers took the lead with a big fourth inning.
Jesus Montero opened the inning with a walk, followed by Stefen Romero’s single. Nate Tenbrink connected on a deep drive to center field, with the ball bouncing over the fence for a ground-rule double that scored Montero.
Poythress then pulled a three-run homer to left field, giving Tacoma a 4-2 lead.
The Rainiers tallied single runs in the fifth and sixth innings before Poythress struck again.
Facing reliever Daryl Maday, Poythress launched a high fly to left for his second homer of the game and ninth of the season, opening a 7-3 lead. It was the first multiple-homer game at the Triple-A level for the Mariners’ second-round pick in 2009 out of the University of Georgia.
Tacoma secured the win with a four-run eighth inning. One run scored on a wild pitch, and Montero had an RBI single before Poythress nearly hit his third homer of the game – instead settling for a two-run triple when his drive to center bounced off the wall.
Beavan (4-3) earned the win, lasting six innings and allowing three runs. He struck out four and walked four.
Forrest Snow, Brian Moran, and Carter Capps each pitched one inning of relief to close it out. The hard-throwing Capps was particularly wild, hitting two batters with fastballs and walking another before eventually recording the final out.
Rehabilitating Franklin Gutierrez played the first five innings in right field, as prescribed by the Mariners’ training staff. ... The six-game skid was Tacoma’s longest since the team dropped seven in a row from July 19-24, 2012... Tacoma has held first place in the division for 47 consecutive games.
The brief trip concludes with a 6:05 p.m. game Sunday in Fresno. Tacoma starts Chance Ruffin (0-1, 8.31 ERA) against Fresno’s Justin Fitzgerald (0-3, 7.33).Mike Curto is the Tacoma Rainiers’ radio broadcaster.