The Tacoma Rainiers mounted a four-run rally with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to steal a 7-5 victory over the Iowa Cubs (19-22) on Saturday evening at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Catcher Mike Zunino went 3-for-5 on the night, including the game-winning three-run home run in the final frame. Joining him with multiple hits were center fielder Leonys Martin (2-for-5, R, 2 2B), left fielder Tyler O’Neill (2-for-4, R), and first baseman D.J. Peterson (2-for-4, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI).
Tacoma starting pitcher Andrew Moore allowed four runs on seven hits over 7.0 innings of work – he struck out a season-high nine batters without issuing a walk.
O’Neill kicked off the scoring when he roped an RBI single into left field in the top of the first inning, rocketing the Rainiers out to an early 1-0 lead.
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The lead would not hold for long, though, as the Cubs would rally for three runs in the bottom of the second to take a 3-1 lead. Bijan Rademacher and Ozzie Martinez both notched RBI base knocks in the frame.
Iowa held onto their 3-1 lead for three innings, until the Rainiers knotted the game up at 3-3 on a two-run home run hammered to left center field by D.J. Peterson. It was Peterson’s fifth home run of the season, tied for the club lead with Daniel Vogelbach.
Jeimer Candelario quickly retook the lead for the Cubs, swatting a solo home run to center field in the bottom of the sixth.
The Rainiers mounted their furious rally in the top of the ninth inning – with two outs and nobody on base Leonys Martin knocked a double into left field to give Tacoma life. Mejias-Brean followed with a walk, while Martin stole third base. Next up was Dario Pizzano, who smacked the third pitch of the at-bat up the middle to score Martin from third, tying the game at 4-4. The heroics would continue in the next at-bat; down to his final strike, Zunino launched a mammoth three-run home run to right center field, pushing Tacoma out in front for good at 7-4.
Back-to-back one-out doubles netted Iowa their final run in the bottom of the ninth, cutting the Rainiers lead to 7-5. But Jean Machi escaped the brief jam with two quick outs to seal Tacoma’s victory.
Machi (2-0) ultimately earned the win after holding the Cubs to one run on two hits with four strikeouts over 2.0 frames of relief.
Tacoma sends right-hander Nathan Bannister (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound to continue their series in Iowa on Sunday. The Cubs are scheduled to start righty Aaron Brooks (3-3, 7.24). First pitch is set for 11:08 a.m. (PDT).