Tacoma took down PCL American Northern Division-leading Oklahoma City 5-4 in 12 innings Monday on D.J. Peterson’s bases-loaded infield single, extending the Rainiers’ winning streak to a season-best seven games.
The game was tied 3-3 going into the 12th inning, but Tacoma reliever Guido Knudson forfeited an RBI single to Charlie Culberson for the Dodgers’ go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the 12th, Tacoma loaded the bases. Stefen Romero then grounded to Culberson, but the Oklahoma City shortstop fumbled the ball as Nori Aoki scored the tying run. Peterson followed with a grounder to second, and Guillermo Heredia dashed home for the game-winner.
“Any time I win I like the way it ended,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “It’s two first place teams from their divisions and that’s the way it usually goes down. Up until the 12th inning, we probably made more mistakes than they did. In the 12th inning, they made more mistakes and it cost them the game.”
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In the first inning, Tacoma right-hander Zach Lee gave up a two-run homer with one out, then buried the inning with two strikeouts. He went five innings, conceding eight hits, three earned runs, two home runs, no walks and struck out four.
“I threw a lot of quality pitches unfortunately,” Lee said, “it’s still not quite right. I feel like I’m leaving balls slightly up.”
Tacoma responded in the bottom of the first when Peterson brought the Rainiers back within one on an RBI single past the outstretched hands of Culberson, scoring Heredia.
Peterson finished 3 for 6 with two RBIs , continuing his hit streak to six games. The 24-year-old prospect is batting .354 with five home runs since being called up to Tacoma on June 29.
“He’s working hard,” Listach said before the game. “I think he’s just matured. He’s a different player than he was last year, and I think it’s a maturity thing.”
Romero plated the the Rainiers’ tying run in the third with an RBI single. With one out and the bases loaded in the same inning, Peterson flied out and the Dodgers turned a double play on the next at-bat to thwart the momentum the Rainiers had with runners in scoring position.
Lee gave up another home run to Dodgers’ left fielder James Ramsay in the fourth. Romero evened the game back up at 3-3 in the sixth with a solo homer, his 11th of the season.
Tacoma’s relief pitchers — Paul Fry, Andrew Kittredge, Blake Parker and Kevin Munson — threw a six combined shutout innings with 10 total strikeouts.
Oklahoma City’s starter Trevor Oaks extended his start through eight innings and gave up 11 hits.
It’s fitting the game was decided by pitching. Tacoma (second, 3.81) and Oklahoma City (third, 3.92) are both in the top three in ERA in the PCL.
Lee faced a familiar foe Monday during his first Cheney Stadium start as a Rainier. Lee began the season as OKC’s Opening Day starter, before he was traded to Seattle for infielder Chris Taylor on June 19.
“The Dodgers are always a team that you like to beat, just because they’re the Dodgers,” Listach said. “You get those three or four organizations in baseball where they’re special teams — the Dodgers, the Yankees, the Red Sox, maybe the Cubs — and you’d like to beat them all. Just because they’re the team hyped up the most. That’s fun going up against.”
It appeared as though the Rainiers may face L.A. Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson on Monday, but having completed his rehab assignment, the 2014 PCL MVP did not join the Triple-A Dodgers in Tacoma. Pederson, recovering from a shoulder injury, went 5 for 8 in three games with Oklahoma City and is expected to join the L.A. Dodgers in Washington where they play the Nationals on Tuesday.
Tacoma starts right-hander Jordan Pries (2-1, 3.86) against Oklahoma City’s righty Brock Stewart (3-0, 3.23) Tuesday. The game time is set for 7:05 p.m. and will be broadcast on 850 AM.
andy.buhler@ thenewstribune.com; @a_buhla