The Tacoma Rainiers are officially playing out the string.
Andy Marte homered and Tommy Field added a solo shot to lift Salt Lake to an 8-4 Pacific Coast League victory over the Rainiers on Thursday night at Cheney Stadium.
The win secures the PCL Pacific North Division for the Bees and eliminates Tacoma from playoff contention.
The Rainiers, who last won a division title during their 2010’s PCL championship season, begin their final series of the regular season Friday with the first of a four-game set at home against Sacramento.
Salt Lake (78-62) clinches its first division crown since the club won three consecutive titles from 2006-08. This marks the last year the Bees will be in the division as realignment places the club in the PCL Pacific South next season.
Stefen Romero smacked a two-run homer and Abraham Almonte chipped in an RBI single for the Rainiers, who led 3-1 in the third and trailed 4-3 before falling victim to a four-run seventh inning by Salt Lake.
The Rainiers (73-67) held at least a share of first place for a total of 71 games this season, including a stretch of 51 consecutive games atop the division standings from May 27 until July 22.
Tacoma matched a season-high four-game lead in the division on July 10 with a record of 55-39 but have since gone 18-28 – posting losing streaks of four, six and seven games during that span.
Field led off the sixth with his 11th home run, taking Tacoma starter Hector Noesi over the left-field wall to break a 3-3 tie.
The Bees added four runs in the seventh, all earned off Tom Wilhelmsen – who replaced Noesi at the start of the inning – to put things away and wrap up the division title.
Marte opened the scoring in the second inning with his blast before Tacoma took a 3-1 advantage on Almonte’s RBI in the second and Romero’s home run in the third.
Back charged the Bees, who pushed two across in the fourth on a Roberto Lopez double and Field’s go-ahead blast.
Tacoma loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but was unable to take advantage. Nate Tenbrink popped out to the catcher, and Rich Poythress grounded out to pitcher Dontrelle Willis, the 2003 National League rookie of the year and two-time All-Star, to end the treat.
First pitch was pushed back 28 minutes because of a rain delay.
The Rainiers begin their final series of the regular season with the first of four games against visiting Sacramento at 7:05 p.m. Forrest Snow (3-0, 3.34 ERA) starts for Tacoma, and the River Cats counter with Carlos Hernandez (1-2, 6.00).