Andrew Carraway didn’t miss a step in his return to the Tacoma Rainiers starting rotation.
Moved to the bullpen after the all-star break because of a glut of starting pitchers on the roster, Carraway returned to a starting role Sunday and delivered six strong innings as Tacoma defeated Albuquerque 8-5 with the help of Stefen Romero’s two home runs.
For the eighth time in the past nine games, the Rainiers’ starting pitcher allowed three runs or fewer. Carraway allowed two runs on six hits, walking one and striking out two. He improved his season record to 6-5.
“He took lessons on how we pitched them yesterday,” said Tacoma Rainiers manager Roy Howell. “You don’t have to throw 100 miles per hour to pitch inside. That was a nice job of pitching tonight.”
Matt Palmer pitched the final three innings, earning his first save since 2010.
Tacoma opened up an early lead for Carraway. Jesus Montero scored on a wild pitch in the second inning, and the Rainiers rallied to score four more runs in the third.
Romero hit long solo homer to center field with one out in the third. He added another solo blast in the fourth, finishing the game 3-for-5.
“Those swings right there — a 425-foot line drive, and the other one too — that was the Romero I had in (Advanced-A) High Desert,” said Howell, who was Romero’s hitting coach in 2012. “That’s how he hit homers in High Desert: line drives. He’s a line drive hitter.”
Romero has played in 13 Triple-A games this year and has five home runs. He’s batting .309 in the Pacific Coast League.
Catcher John Hicks continued to produce offensively since being promoted from Double-A Jackson on July 8. Hicks contributed a two-out, two-run single in the third inning. He has hit safely in nine of his first 11 Triple-A games.
Tacoma improved to 59-57 on the season, moving two games above .500 for the first time since May 11 when the team was 18-16. Tacoma is now seven games behind the division-leading Sacramento River Cats with 28 games to play.
Albuquerque played without shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena , who is serving a five-game suspension doled out by the league office for his participation in the Isotopes’ violent bench-clearing brawl in Reno on July 26. Arruebarrena is one of six Isotopes serving staggered suspensions.
The third game of the series in Albuquerque is Monday at 6:05 p.m. PDT. Tacoma starts Taijuan Walker (4-2, 4.14 ERA) against Isotopes right-hander Carlos Frias (8-4, 5.01 ERA).