The Tacoma Rainiers pulled off their first late-inning, comeback win of the season on Sunday at Isotopes Park.
Trailing 5-3 after six innings, the Rainiers used three home runs to first tie and then take the lead in a 6-5 victory over Albuquerque.
Prior to Sunday, the Rainiers (35-36) were 0-28 in games in which they trailed after six innings.
“We’ve lost some when we had the lead late in the game, so it’s good to win one,” said Tacoma manager Pat Listach.
Albuquerque (31-40) took a 5-2 lead after three innings against Tacoma starter Stephen Landazuri, with Isotopes catcher Dustin Garneau contributing a solo homer and a two-run double.
Facing top Colorado Rockies pitching prospect Jon Gray, the Rainiers offense stalled until Pat Kivlehan lifted a solo homer to left field in the sixth inning, making it 5-3.
Gray made it through six innings for his seventh consecutive quality start (at least six innings, no more than three earned runs), and he struck out a season-high nine batters.
Veteran reliever Rafael Betancourt was brought in from the Albuquerque bullpen to pitch the seventh. The rehabilitating Rockies reliever (he’s on the disabled list with vertigo) allowed a one-out double to Shawn O’Malley, before Franklin Gutierrez connected on a game-tying, two-run homer.
Tacoma’s No. 9 hitter, Carlos Rivero, delivered the decisive blow. Facing Isotopes reliever Ken Roberts with two outs in the eighth, Rivero launched a first-pitch fastball to center field and out of the park.
“He hit a long one,” Listach said. “He made that one count. Deepest part of the ballpark.”
It was the fifth home run of the season for Rivero — and his first since May 22.
After Landazuri left after four innings, Listach mixed and matched with the Tacoma bullpen for the remainder of the way. Five relievers combined to pitch five scoreless innings of three-hit ball, enabling the comeback.
“With the day off Monday, I tried to get a lot of guys some work,” said Listach. “We were able to use our lefties — (Edgar) Olmos and (Lucas) Luetge — against their left-handed hitters, which gave them a chance to work on their trade.”
Tony Zych (1-1) earned the win, recording the final out in the seventh before pitching a three-up, three-down eighth.
Mayckol Guaipe picked up his fifth save, striking out Kyle Parker with the tying runner at first to finish the game.
Tacoma finished the road trip with a 5-2 record, winning series in Reno (2-1) and Albuquerque (3-1).
The Rainiers have a day off Monday, then start an 11-game homestand Tuesday with a 6:05 p.m. game against the Reno Aces. Tacoma will start Justin Germano (6-2, 2.92 ERA) against Reno’s Aaron Blair (0-1, 18.00).