Eighth-inning home runs by a pair of unlikely candidates doomed the Tacoma Rainiers at Werner Park on Monday afternoon, where the Omaha Storm Chasers produced a late rally and claimed an 8-5 Pacific Coast League victory.
Tacoma led 5-3 going to the bottom of the eighth, but Omaha’s Dusty Coleman and Rey Fuentes each hit two-run homers to give the Storm Chasers the lead.
Mayckol Guaipe was summoned from the Tacoma bullpen to protect a two-run lead. He retired the first batter on a comebacker, but third baseman Pat Kivlehan dropped a pop fly off the bat of Lane Adams for an error that brought the tying run to the plate.
Coleman — the No. 9 hitter — then lined his second home run of the season, to left field, tying the game at 5.
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Leadoff man Whit Merrifield reached on an infield single when his line drive popped out of the glove of a diving Kivlehan, bringing up Fuentes. The speedy outfielder typically hits just four or five homers a year, but he pulled a line drive over the right field fence to put Omaha ahead, 7-5.
The Storm Chasers added another run with three straight two-out singles. All told, they scored five runs on six hits in the eighth.
“We’ve got to make plays,” said Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “It doesn’t do us any good to allow extra outs. In one inning we allowed five outs, and the next thing you know we’ve got a pitcher we expected to throw 25 pitches and he ends up at 50.”
Tacoma took the lead by scoring three runs with two outs in the third inning against Omaha starter Clayton Mortensen. James Jones singled in the first run, and Jesus Montero double in two more.
Rainiers starter Forrest Snow was pulled from the game in the second inning with the bases loaded and one out. Uncharacteristically wild, Snow reached 39 pitches in the inning and was removed because the Mariners do not allow their minor league pitchers to throw 40 pitches in a single inning.
“We can’t jeopardize his health,” Listach said. “Two of the last three days, our starting pitcher didn’t get through the third inning. It puts a lot of pressure on the bullpen.”
Logan Bawcom (31/3 innings) and Tony Zych (two innings) protected the lead until the eighth inning.
This is only the second time Tacoma has visited Omaha’s Werner Park, which opened in 2011. Tacoma and Omaha split a four-game series in 2012. … Rainiers reliever Edgar Olmos is temporarily away from the team due to his wife having a baby.
Tacoma is scheduled to start Mike Montgomery (4-3, 3.83) against Omaha’s Aaron Brooks (3-3, 3.76) in the 4:35 p.m. (PDT) second game of the series. The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.