Carlos Triunfel decided that a 3-0 first-inning lead wasn’t enough.
So the Tacoma shortstop put a cherry on top of the Rainiers’ big first inning by driving in the fourth run with a fielder’s choice.
That started the Rainiers on their way to an 11-5 victory over first-place Salt Lake City on Monday night and tightened up the Pacific Coast League race for the Pacific North Division title.
Bees starter, Tommy Hanson, who walked the first two batters lasted 32/3 innings. He allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
His earned run average ballooned to 4.91 and the Bees’ lead over Tacoma shriveled to four games with seven games to play.
The next three games will be at Cheney Stadium.
The Bees didn’t go down quietly. In the sixth inning, outfielder Scott Cousins smashed a three-run home run off Tacoma starter Blake Beavan to cut the Rainiers’ lead to 7-4.
Solid relief by Forrest Snow, Tom Wilhelmsen and Chance Ruffin limited the Bees the rest of the way.
“Blake had a really nice outing going into the sixth inning. I thought he pitched well enough to win the game,” Rainiers manager John Stearns said.
Nate Tenbrink hit his 15th home run of the season to surpass his career high set in 2010.
Since July 18, Tenbrink leads the PCL with a .595 slugging percentage.
“I’m focusing on keeping my approach simple,” Tenbrink said. “I’m really just trying to see the ball as well as I can.”
Designated hitter Ji-Man Choi, who joined the Rainiers Aug. 19, hit his first home run for Tacoma — a two-run shot in the seventh.
Despite the loss, Salt Lake can win the division with two wins this series.
“We need to take every game one at a time right now and try to win each game,” Stearns said.
A Tacoma sweep would cut the Bees’ lead to one.