After issuing nine walks in 6 1/3 innings and taking a pair of losses in his first two starts of the season, James Paxton needed a good outing Wednesday.
And he delivered.
Paxton was in complete command of his pitches, delivering six shutout, walk-free innings in Tacoma’s 3-1 victory over the El Paso Chihuahuas.
“He’s been working on some mechanical things with (pitching coach) Lance Painter,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “Today, everything clicked, and he looked like his old self again.”
Paxton needed just 72 pitches to go six innings, throwing 48 strikes. He gave up three hits and struck out three.
Paxton didn’t even go to a three-ball count until the sixth inning, when he fell behind Jason Hagerty 3-1. Two pitches later, he struck him out.
“He pounded the zone, he threw strikes, he stayed down in the zone, he mixed up his pitches, and he was quick to the plate,” Listach said.
The Rainiers gave Paxton just a little bit of offense — but it was enough.
Facing Chihuahuas starter Daniel McCutchen, Chris Taylor drilled a one-out double in the top of the first inning. He stole third base, and he scored on Efren Navarro’s single to make it 1-0.
That was the score until the fifth, when Dario Pizzano hit a leadoff triple and scored on Tyler Smith’s groundout.
Tacoma’s third run scored in the top of the seventh inning as Taylor’s two-out double to deep left field scored Boog Powell. Taylor finished the game 2 for 3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI. He extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
“(Taylor) had a rough spring training, but that’s behind him now,” Listach said. “He’s good to go, and he’s on a roll.”
Casey Coleman relieved Paxton in the bottom of the seventh and allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings.
Blake Parker protected the two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, earning his fourth save in as many opportunities.
Both Ed Lucas (11 games) and Mike Zunino (10 games) saw their hitting streaks end. Each player went 0 for 4. … Navarro had two hits, his fifth consecutive multiple-hit outing. He had a nine-game hitting streak.
Tacoma starts Adrian Sampson (2-0, 2.25 ERA) against El Paso’s Aaron Northcraft (0-0, 0.00) as the road trip continues Thursday. First pitch is set for 5:35 p.m. (PDT).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.