MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Facing the opportunity to secure their first series split in over a month, the Tacoma Rainiers needed a strong showing from a starting pitcher.
Jordan Pries delivered seven shutout innings, Abraham Almonte launched a three-run homer, and Tacoma defeated Memphis on Thursday afternoon, 6-3.
The win gave the Rainiers a 2-2 series split with the Redbirds — ending a string of seven consecutive series losses that extended back to May 9.
Pries held Memphis to six hits — all singles. He did not strike out a batter, but also did not issue any walks. He induced two double-play grounders to get out of the fifth and sixth innings.
“He located his fastball, throwing it to both sides of the plate,” said Tacoma manager Roy Howell. “He kept the ball down and kept them off guard.”
Pries threw just 77 pitches in seven innings, and seemed primed to go the distance. However, Howell removed him for Brandon Maurer with a 6-0 lead.
“It was a little hot and steamy out there,” said Howell. “He did a good job, and it’s the bullpen’s turn. We wanted Maurer to get a couple of innings there.”
Pries (4-5) lowered his earned run average to 2.62 in the win.
Tacoma’s first five runs all scored on two-out hits.
Xavier Nady staked the Rainiers to a 1-0 lead in the third inning, grounding a two-out RBI single to center field against Redbirds starter John Gast (0-1).
Ty Kelly led off the fourth with a walk. After Gabriel Noriega singled Kelly to third with two outs, Leury Bonilla singled home Kelly to make it 2-0.
Abraham Almonte followed with a long three-run homer onto the berm in left field at AutoZone Park. It was his third home run of the season, and it gave Tacoma a 5-0 lead.
“It was a fastball, inside and a little bit high,” said Almonte. “It feels good to do something to help the team win.”
Jabari Blash singled in Nick Franklin for Tacoma’s sixth run, in the fifth inning.
Maurer pitched the final two innings, giving up a three-run homer to Tommy Phan in the eighth inning.
Rainiers pitching coach Jaime Navarro will miss Friday’s game, instead flying to Milwaukee to be inducted into the Brewers’ “Wall Of Honor.” Navarro pitched for Milwaukee from 1989 through 1994, and in 2000.
The Rainiers begin a four-game series in Nashville on Friday at 5:05 (PDT). Tacoma starts James Gillheeney (1-6, 6.45 ERA) against the Sounds’ Taylor Jungmann (2-2, 5.40).Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.