Chase De Jong and four relievers put together another solid outing on Sunday afternoon, once again lifting the Rainiers to a win over Albuquerque, 3-1, at Cheney Stadium.
De Jong recorded his second win of the season, tossing five productive innings in front of a crowd of 2,971.
Ryne Harper, Nick Hagadone, Mark Lowe and Dean Kiekhefer held the Isotopes scoreless in relief, and Tacoma extended its winning streak to four games.
“Pitching is (going to have) peaks and valleys,” De Jong said. “Right now, our staff is throwing the ball really well. We’re going right after hitters, we’re challenging them.”
De Jong efficiently worked through 21 batters, allowing one run on five hits.
His only blunder came in the third inning, when Mike Tauchman ripped a 2-1 pitch for a home run over the right-field fence.
“He labored a little bit,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “The pace of the game was pretty slow the first three innings.
“I don’t know if he couldn’t get into a groove, but his pitch count got up there pretty high. He battled, he gave up a solo homer, limited damage. He gave us five innings, so I was pleased with it.”
De Jong’s only cushion came in the second, when Steve Baron singled to center to drive in Ben Gamel and Tyler Smith.
Tauchman homered the next inning, but De Jong stranded three batters in the fourth and fifth to preserve the lead.
He worked out of a jam in the fifth, striking out Rosell Herrera and Pat Valaika to retire the side, when the Isotopes had runners at the corners with one out.
“We put up two runs and then I give up the solo home run, but after that I was right back into it trying to get guys out quickly and efficiently,” De Jong said.
Tacoma added one more run in the eighth on a Gordon Beckham solo home run, but has struggled to produce offensively throughout most of the season.
“We know those guys are going to heat up, probably as the weather does,” De Jong said. “We’re glad to have their back. We can go out there and do our job, throw up a lot of zeroes.”
The four relievers threw up four zeroes to close the game. Albuquerque loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Kiekhefer earned the save after forcing Tauchman to ground out.
Tacoma (6-4) will play for the series sweep over Albuquerque (6-5) at 11:35 a.m. on Monday at Cheney.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Baron’s single to center gave Tacoma’s pitchers just enough room to work with.
He knocked a 1-1 pitch up the middle, easily scoring Gamel from third. Smith got a good enough jump to beat a late throw to the plate.
PLUS: The Rainiers pitching staff now has a 2.16 ERA on the season. Sunday, De Jong and the four relievers combined for 12 strikeouts, while allowing eight hits. Albuquerque stranded 17 base runners.
MINUS: Tacoma stranded five base runners in the first three innings. Daniel Vogelbach struck out looking with the bases loaded in the second inning, retiring the side. … Albuquerque’s pitchers retired 15 straight Tacoma batters between the third and seventh innings, before Beckham’s leadoff home run in the eighth.
STAT PACK: Hagadone struck out all four batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings. The left-hander has faced 11 batters this season, and he’s struck out 10 of them.
The one anomaly was a groundout to short against El Paso on Friday. Hagadone has yet to allow a hit.
“It’s a pretty impressive streak he’s got going,” Listach said. “He’s throwing strikes, No. 1. He’s elevating the fastball when he has to or when he can, and they’ve been swinging at it. The fastball looks like a strike and keeps riding up.”
Hagadone is one of nine Rainiers pitchers that still sports a 0.00 ERA.
QUOTABLE: “I think when we go down to El Paso you’ll see a different offensive ball club. It’s been cold, it’s been wet, it’s been damp, it’s been windy today. I think that all has an effect.” — Listach on how weather has impacted hitters