It was a night that featured all types of baseball for the Tacoma Rainiers. Good and bad, but mostly just OK. But for third baseman Gabriel Noriega, it was good — a sign that his old self had returned.
Noriega produced the play of the game when he lofted a go-ahead, two-run double near the right field foul line in the fourth inning to give Tacoma the lead. The Rainiers went on to score two more runs in the inning and held on to beat the Las Vegas 51s, 6-4, on Wednesday night at Cheney Stadium.
“We got behind a little bit but came back,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “We had six hits, six runs — efficient. Didn’t want to waste any time, I guess. Good timely hitting.”
Noriega only had one hit in his previous five games.
“We were working on breaking balls before the game, and I was just trying to get a good hit on a slider,” Noriega said through teammate Erasmo Ramirez. “It’s a big point for me, in my mind, to come back to helping the team out.”
Tacoma fell behind, 3-1, when starting pitcher Andrew Carraway allowed back-to-back home runs in the third. It was the second time in three games that a Rainiers pitcher had allowed two homers in one inning.
Carraway kept Las Vegas at bay following the homers, but the right-hander threw 91 pitches in just five innings. The right-hander allowed six hits and two walks, and he struck out four while improving to 5-5 on the season.
The Rainiers used five relievers to protect what was a 6-3 lead when Carraway left the game.
Tacoma left-hander Lucas Luetge followed Carraway and struggled for his two-thirds of an inning of work.
Luetge walked three batters to load the bases in the sixth, then allowed an RBI single to shortstop Wilmer Flores on an 0-2 pitch as Tacoma’s lead shrunk to 6-4.
It stayed that way until the end, although closer Carson Smith had to escape a bases-loaded jam in the ninth.
Tacoma first baseman Justin Smoak opened the scoring in the first inning with a line-drive single to drive in Abraham Almonte.
Almonte scored again in the third on second baseman Nick Franklin’s RBI fielder’s choice grounder.
In the fourth, Noriega scored on a double to center field by Almonte.
Following a strikeout by Chris Taylor, with two outs, Franklin hit a soft single to drive in Almonte, extending the Rainiers’ lead to 6-3.
Rainiers catcher Humberto Quintero extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a soft single in the eighth. It is his longest streak since 2011, when he was with the Houston Astros.
Tacoma plays its series finale against the Las Vegas 51s at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Cheney Stadium. Rainiers right-hander Jordan Pries (6-6, 3.96 ERA) will face Las Vegas righty Logan Verrett (8-2, 4.58).