The ball carried well on Wednesday afternoon at First Tennessee Park, and the Nashville Sounds took advantage by hitting a couple of home runs in a 5-2 win over Tacoma.
With a stiff breeze blowing out to left, Nashville second baseman Joey Wendle lifted an opposite-field three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to put Nashville in front, 4-2.
Wendle’s homer spoiled an otherwise solid starting pitching performance by Tacoma’s Jarrett Grube, who took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning.
“The game turned on one pitch,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “But also, we didn’t execute early. We had a runner on third with less than two outs and didn’t get him in, and we had runners at first and third and hit into a double play. We could’ve expanded our lead and given us a cushion.”
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Nashville’s win improved its record to 72-53 on the year, and the American-South division leader pushed past Tacoma (71-53) to claim the best won-lost record in the league.
Tacoma has lost the first two games of the four-game series. The Rainiers have not lost a four-game series since dropping three of four to Reno on June 9-12.
Rainiers outfielder Ryan Strausborger started the scoring in the top of the third inning, lining a homer to left against Nashville starting pitcher Dillon Overton. The Sounds immediately answered in the bottom of the inning, when Arismendy Alcantara pulled a homer to right field off Grube to make it 1-1.
Tacoma moved ahead in the fifth. Strausborger opened the inning with a single to left, and Marcus Littlewood followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, and Strausborger scored on a groundout by Mike Freeman to give Tacoma the lead.
Grube escaped trouble in the fifth inning when center fielder Guillermo Heredia threw out Rangel Ravelo at home plate, trying to score from second on a single by Bryan Anderson.
“Heredia made a great throw from center to keep the game 2-1 for a while,” Listach said. “We looked like we were in position to win the game, and then one big hit.”
In the sixth inning, Grube allowed a single and a walk to open the inning. He got the next two batters to pop up, but Wendle was able to loft his 12th homer of the year to left field, putting Nashville in control.
The Rainiers were unable to fight back. Tacoma did not get a hit after Strausborger’s fifth inning single, and finished the game with five hits. The Rainiers have just nine hits over the first two games in Nashville.
Outfielder Stefen Romero has missed three straight games with a stiff back. Romero is batting .316 with 19 home runs and 79 RBIs. … Rehabbing Mariners relievers Tony Zych and Evan Scribner have joined the team. Zych is expected to pitch an inning Thursday, with Scribner working Friday.
Taijuan Walker (0-0, 6.23) makes the start for Tacoma on Thursday at 5:05 p.m. (PDT). Nashville will start Daniel Mengden (6-1, 1.34).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.