At least the Tacoma Rainiers didn't lose any ground in the Pacific North Division race.
Even though Portland used the long ball to claim a 5-3 Pacific Coast League victory Saturday night, Tacoma remains 2ß games ahead of Salt Lake with nine games remaining as the Rainiers chase a second consecutive crown. The Bees lost to Colorado Springs, 7-2, putting the Rainiers’ magic number for clinching the division at seven.
Portland, the worst team in the division, has taken three out of four games so far in the series, with the finale today at 1:30 p.m. The Beavers won a series at Cheney Stadium for the first time since 2007.
“(Portland is) a better team right now,” Rainiers manager Jose Castro said. “They have a couple of bats in there, and they showed it tonight. They’re a good ballclub right now.”
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All of Portland’s runs came on three home runs – a two-run shot by Craig Stansberry in the fifth and a pair of homers by Wily Mo Peña in the sixth and eighth.
Peña’s second home run came on the first pitch he saw from starter Ryan Rowland-Smith in the top of the eighth, giving the Beavers (55-80) the lead for good.
Through 4† innings, Row-land-Smith was cruising. He retired 11 straight batters before the Beavers tagged him for the three long balls, and left after 7† innings. He gave up five runs on nine hits and struck out two.
“He was a little erratic,” Castro said, “but he got better.”
David Winfree tied it at 3 in the sixth with his two-run home run to left field. He wasn’t the only Rainier to hit it out of the park – Matt Mangini’s solo blast in the first gave Tacoma a 1-0 lead. Mangini, who went 1-for-4, increased his team-leading six-game hitting streak.
PINEDA SHUT DOWN
The Mariners decided to shut down top pitching prospect Michael Pineda for the remainder of the season for precautionary measures.
Pineda has remained healthy this season, but had elbow problems that plagued him during the 2009 season in Class A High Desert. The 21-year-old had 154 strikeouts in 141 innings – nearly triple his innings pitched in ’09 – between Double-A West Tennessee and Triple-A Tacoma.
The Rainiers and Beavers conclude their five-game series today at 1:30 p.m. at Cheney Stadium. Tacoma sends Blake Beavan (2-2, 6.10 ERA ) to the mound against Portland right-hander Cesar Carrillo (5-13, 5.24). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM, on television on Comcast SportsNet, and at www.taco marainiers.com .
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com