The Tacoma Rainiers have yet to post a series sweep this season.
However, a recent power surge at the plate has the team on the cusp of accomplishing just that against a Pacific Coast League division leader.
Franklin Gutierrez smashed a three-run home run, Leon Landry hit his third homer in the past two games and the Rainiers matched their longest winning streak of the season with a 6-3 victory over visiting Round Rock at Cheney Stadium on Sunday.
Tacoma (22-29) has won three in a row, marking just the second time this year the squad has stringed together three consecutive wins.
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The Rainiers, which also won three consecutive games against Fresno earlier this season before dropping the fourth game of the series to the Grizzlies, will look to complete the four-game series sweep of the Express at 11:35 a.m. Monday.
“We fell behind early, but battled back,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “The team’s playing well. This was a complete win. We got a couple big hits, some timely hitting. We were able to turn a few double plays early to keep the deficit close.”
PCL American South Division Round Rock (30-19) jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Gutierrez gave Tacoma the lead for good in the fourth with a three-run shot to left-center.
Gutierrez, who missed 10 games between May 9-18, has hit safely in nine consecutive games since returning to the lineup, posting a .433 batting average (13 for 30). His fourth inning blast was his first home run since a two homer effort against Salt Lake City on May 5.
He finished with three RBIs, equaling a season high.
“He’s been swinging the bat well since returning,” Listach said. “He always seems to have good at bats. He makes the pitchers work. It was nice to see him score from second.”
Patrick Kivlehan changed places with Gutierrez with a run-scoring double in the sixth to push the Rainiers’ lead to 5-2.
Prior to Kivlehan’s RBI, Landry followed up his two home run performance Saturday by smacking a solo blast in the sixth which doubled up the Express at 4-2.
It was Landry’s fourth home run since being called up by the Rainiers on May 11.
James Gillheeney (1-0) was charged with two runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings while picking up his first win on the year.
Rainiers shortstop Ketel Marte went 2 for 3 to increase his PCL-leading total to 68 hits on the season before being removed from the game with one out in the top of the sixth.
In the previous inning, Marte injured his right thumb following an awkward slide into second base. He briefly remained in the contest after being checked out by the team’s trainer, but was pulled from the game during Gillheeny’s exit in the sixth.
Listach said Marte was being X-rayed following the game, but did not have a status update.
Tacoma closes out its four-game home series with Round Rock with an 11:35 a.m. game Monday at Cheney Stadium. Stephen Landazuri (0-1, 8.53 ERA) takes the mound for the Rainiers. The Express counter with Anthony Ranaudo (4-1, 2.70).