After scoring one run in the previous 22 innings, the Tacoma Rainiers knew they were going to erupt eventually.
The eruption came in the fourth inning at Memphis on Saturday night, when the Rainiers sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs. It was just enough as the Rainiers held on to beat the Redbirds, 6-5.
Moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, Dan Vogelbach led off the fourth with a line-drive single to right field. Later in the inning, he doubled off the right field fence to bring in a pair of runs and give Tacoma a 6-0 lead.
Between Vogelbach’s two hits, Tacoma had an RBI single from Rob Brantly, a groundout by Zach Shank that brought in a run, and a two-out, two-run double to the left field corner by Jesus Sucre.
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“We got six hits in the inning — it was huge,” said Tacoma manager Pat Listach. “We really needed it. We needed all six of those runs because Memphis battled back.”
Pitching on his 24th birthday, Tacoma’s Taijuan Walker was sharp for the first two innings before running into some difficulties. He survived a pair of walks in a scoreless third, but allowed back-to-back RBI doubles with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.
Walker was removed with one out in the fifth inning after issuing a bases-loaded walk to Carson Kelly. He allowed four runs on six hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.
Pat Venditte issued another-bases loaded walk after relieving Walker, but he settled in to work two scoreless innings and earn his first win for the Rainiers.
An error by second baseman Mike Freeman on a potential double-play grounder in the eighth inning led to another run scoring, and Memphis was down 6-5 with two runners on base and one out. Listach called on David Rollins from the bullpen, and the lefty secured a difficult five-out save.
“None of the pitchers had an easy day except for Rollins,” said Listach. “Memphis made them work, and Freeman’s been great but he made a big error on a ball we should have turned a double play on to get out of the inning.”
The start of the game was delayed 10 minutes because of rain. … Memphis and Tacoma are the two best home teams in the league, with Memphis going 36-25 at AutoZone Park and Tacoma going 39-21 at Cheney Stadium. Memphis has the worst road record in the PCL (22-37). … Tacoma bullpen catcher P.J. Jones was sent to Double-A Jackson, were he was activated as a player.
Tacoma RHP Zach Lee (0-5, 6.46 ERA) will face Memphis RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-5, 5.04) on Sunday. First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m. (PDT). Radio broadcast is on 850-AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.