After sending three pitchers to the Mariners on Thursday, two from the bullpen, the Rainiers needed Joe Wieland to go deep into his start.
Wieland struck out five and allowed one earned run in six innings, and the Rainiers defeated Fresno, 10-4, on Friday night at Cheney Stadium.
Tacoma scored its 10 runs off of 10 hits.
Wieland made his second start since returning from the disabled list.
“That’s the guy we’ve been expecting to see all year,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “It’s crucial that our starters get those inning every game this week just to keep the bullpen fresh and safe. We don’t want to get anyone hurt, but at the same time we want to win some ballgames.”
Wieland, who has a 7.52 ERA, threw 90 pitches. He was limited to 60 pitches in his return Monday, and has had an up-and-down season.
“(Helping the bullpen) was definitely on the back of my mind,” Wieland said. “Going in, I knew I had to go a little bit deep in the game. Last thing I needed to do was kill this (bullpen) without much help.”
The Rainiers lost starter Adrian Sampson and relievers Jonathan Aro and David Rollins. They were called up to supplement the Seattle staff during a road trip.
Tacoma took an early lead when Boog Powell hit a two-run homer in the third inning. Fresno pulled within one run in the fourth.
In the fifth inning for the Rainiers, Dario Pizzano hit a double to the left field wall, driving in two runs.Tyler Smith then hit a home run to plate two more runs.
When the Rainiers turned to reliever Kraig Sitton in the seventh inning, Fresno hit itself back into the game. Sitton gave up five hits and three runs, including a two-RBI single and an RBI triple back-to-back with two outs. The Grizzlies had cut their deficit to 6-4.
In came Tacoma’s Blake Parker, who hadn’t pitched more than one inning at a time all year, for the final two innings. Parker had four strikeouts, and gave up no hits and no walks. He retired all six batters he faced.
“Man, was he impressive,” Listach said. “He saw (Jonathan) Aro go up, he saw (David) Rollins go up. … He said, ‘I need to prove to (the Mariners) that I can go multiple innings.’ ”
The Rainiers’ four-run eighth inning delivered the knockout punch. Mike Baxter hit a single, sending in Chris Taylor from third base. With the bases loaded, Stefen Romero hit a fly ball past the outstretched left fielder. Romero reached second and all three base runners scored.
Though Tacoma lost two relievers to the big leagues, it got some help from Double-A Jackson: reliever Emilio Pagan. He earned nine saves, and had 45 strikeouts against 19 hits with a 1.17 ERA in 18 games.
The Rainiers will start Jarrett Grube (0-0, 5.40 ERA) against Fresno’s Brady Rodgers (5-3, 2.90) at 5:05 p.m. Saturday at Cheney.