After dropping six of the last eight games — including a home series to second-place Reno — the division-leading Tacoma Rainiers badly needed a win on the road.
They got that win on Monday night at Smith’s Ballpark, where Adrian Sampson tossed six shutout innings in a 3-1 victory over the Salt Lake Bees.
Sampson stranded a pair of baserunners in both the second and third innings before coasting through the middle frames, eventually securing his PCL-leading seventh win of the season. He gave up five hits and two walks, striking out three, while throwing a season-high 98 pitches.
Tacoma scored all three of its runs with a string of two-out hits in the top of the fourth against Bees starter Chris Jones.
Tyler Smith singled to center, Boog Powell lined a base hit to right field and Chris Taylor then connected on the game’s big hit: a line drive down the right field line, for an opposite-field, two-run triple. Taylor scored two pitches later, when Stefen Romero pulled a double into the left-field corner, making it 3-0.
The 3-0 lead stood until the bottom of the seventh inning, when Salt Lake mustered three singles against Rainiers reliever Paul Fry, scoring one run.
The Bees had the tying runners in scoring position and rehabbing major leaguer Andrelton Simmons at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
With Casey Coleman on the mound, Simmons pulled a hard, sinking line drive to left field. Tacoma’s Daniel Robertson made a terrific diving catch, ending the inning and preserving the lead.
Coleman and David Rollins combined to pitch a scoreless eighth inning, and Blake Parker struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to earn his 11th save.
Tacoma improved to 8-1 against Salt Lake this season. The Rainiers went 7-1 against the Bees at Cheney Stadium, and Monday’s game was the first of eight the teams will play in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake’s lineup started with two rehabbing major leaguers. Daniel Nava (strained groin) led off, and Simmons (left thumb surgery) batted second. Both have been out since early May. … It’s the start of a summer of rehab appearances for Salt Lake, as the parent Los Angeles Angels currently have 11 players on their major league disabled list.
Tacoma sends Donn Roach (4-4, 4.63) to the mound in the second game of the series on Tuesday at 6:05 (Pacific). Salt Lake’s Blayne Weller will be making his first Triple-A start of the season.