Blake Beavan was dominant through the first six innings, and when the right-hander finally did face some opposition, he looked even more impressive.
Beavan pitched seven shutout innings, posting a season-high seven strikeouts, as the Tacoma Rainiers beat the visiting Sacramento River Cats, 4-0, Saturday at Cheney Stadium.
“Blake looked like a big leaguer tonight,” said Rainiers manager John Stearns. “He was throwing strikes and locating his fastball. He had command out there. We needed him to go deep for us to have a chance to win.”
Leury Bonilla capped the scoring in the eighth, hitting his first home run of the season for Tacoma and becoming the 26th different Rainiers player to go deep this season.
Tacoma (75-67) has two regular season games remaining, both against Sacramento (78-64).
The 75 wins marks the first time since 2008, when the club posted 80 victories, the Rainiers have reached that win plateau.
The Rainiers’ victory also helped Las Vegas clinch the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Southern Division.
Beavan, who has split time this season between Tacoma and the Seattle Mariners, cruised through the first six innings, allowing just two hits while striking out six and walking one as he took a 2-0 lead into the seventh.
Sacramento’s Michael Choice hit a ground-rule double to open the inning before Beavan hit Michael Taylor with a pitch. A walk to Anthony Aliotti loaded the bases with one out.
Beavan (6-6) battled out of the jam, fanning Andy Parrino and getting Addison Russell to pop out to short to keep the River Cats scoreless.
Bobby LaFromboise replaced Beavan, who surrendered a season-low three hits, and threw two scoreless innings to register his fourth save.
Rich Poythress broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth after a throwing error by River Cats catcher Derek Norris on Joseph Dunigan’s steal of second base ended up in center field, allowing Poythress, who was at third base, an easy trip home.
Ty Kelly, who has hit safely in 10 out of 11 games, drove in newly acquired Xavier Avery, who slid under Norris’ tag at home, with his second single of the game, pushing Tacoma’s lead to 2-0 in the fifth.
Tacoma sends Danny Hultzen (4-1, 2.20 ERA) against Sacramento’s Travis Banwart (10-5, 4.43) at 1:35 p.m. Sunday at Cheney Stadium.