Tacoma was in position to bring a one-run lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, but a three-run homer sank the Rainiers as they fell to Oklahoma City, 6-4, on Thursday night at Cheney Stadium.
Closer Blake Parker took the mound with two outs in the top of the eighth, nobody on base and the Rainiers leading, 4-3.
“We were feeling pretty good there,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said.
The Dodgers put two runners on base and, with a 2-2 count, Oklahoma City first baseman O’Koyea Dickson hit the homer that put the Rainiers in a two-run hole.
“The actual home run pitch was a pretty good pitch,” Listach said. “We came and looked at it on the video; he hooked a pretty good pitch. You’ve got to tip your cap sometimes.”
Tacoma starter Jarrett Grube struck out two batters and gave up a hit in the first two innings.
The Rainiers (55-42) and Dodgers (55-42) traded one-run leads all game, starting with OKC in the third.
James Ramsay hit a double and Brandon Hicks a single off Grube. With runners on second and third, Micah Johnson grounded into the infield. First baseman DJ Peterson charged and collected the ball, but he missed the tag on Johnson as Ramsay scored to give the Dodgers a one-run lead.
It appeared as though Johnson may have ran outside the base path to elude Peterson’s tag. Listach came out of the dugout to argue with home plate umpire Alex Ortiz.
“They got the call right,” Listach said. “I came back and looked at it on the video, and I told them ‘You guys got the call right.’ I thought he ran out of base line once DJ tried to tag him. Once I watched the replay, he was already veering out.”
Grube retired the next two batterson his way to seven outs in a row. He finished with five strikeouts, five hits and one earned run in five innings.
Tacoma flipped the script in the fourth.
Stefen Romero hit a deep ball to right-center field for a triple, scoring Guillermo Heredia from first. Romero scored the go-ahead run on the next at-bat.
The Rainiers began the fifth with two singles, via Jesus Sucre and Ryan Strausborger, but gave up three quick outs.
Tacoma’s lead lasted just over an inning.
In the sixth, OKC’s Will Venable belted a two-run homer 412 feet over the right field fence off Donn Roach, who was making his second relief appearance since being moved from the rotation.
The Dodgers nursed a lead heading into the seventh, but the Rainiers rallied behind three hits and two walks.
Sucre’s bunt put runners on second and third. Back-to-back RBI singles scored Rob Brantly and Patrick Kivlehan, and Tacoma reclaimed the lead.
With one out and runners on first and second, the Dodgers’ Rob Segedin pulled off an unassisted double play — catching Heredia’s line drive and scurrying back to first base to beat Daniel Robertson to the bag.
Charlie Furbush, on rehab assignment from Seattle, pitched a scoreless seventh inning. He gave up a hit, a walk, and threw 13 pitches. ... Robertson was back in the lineup after being optioned from Seattle on Wednesday. In nine games with the Mariners, he went 5 for 19 with a .300 on-base percentage. … Right-hander Sam Gaviglio was transferred to Triple-A Tacoma from Double-A Jackson after righty Paul Blackburn, who was acquired from the Cubs on Wednesday, was assigned to Double-A. Gaviglio will be worked into the starting rotation. ... Newly acquired power hitter Dan Vogelbach will join the team Friday in Salt Lake. Vogelbach and current first baseman DJ Peterson will trade off playing first and DH, Listach said. ... Heredia extended his hitting streak to 11 games, the longest active streak on the team. He went 2 for 4 and scored a run Thursday. During the streak, the 25-year-old has had three three-hit games and belted two home runs.
The Rainiers head to Salt Lake City for their third series this season against the Bees (47-49). Tacoma right-hander Joe Wieland (7-5, 6.41 ERA) will start Friday against Salt Lake right-hander Ross Stripling (0-2, 3.78). First pitch is 5:35 p.m. (PDT), and the game will be broadcast on 850-AM. Tacoma holds a 9-3 advantage over the Bees this season.