It took a season-high 17 runs and a season-high-tying seven home runs, including two each from Matt Mangini and Brad Nelson, to finally give the Tacoma Rainiers a little breathing room in the standings.
Tacoma also got homers from Dustin Ackley, Eliezer Alfonzo and Mike Carp to overcome an early four-run deficit and beat visiting Portland, 17-8, Sunday at Cheney Stadium.
“That’s how we win games here,” Tacoma manager Jose Castro said. “The way Portland has been swinging the bat, it was good to see us come out and hit the way we did. Up and down the entire lineup produced tonight”
The win gave the Rainiers a 3ß-game lead over Salt Lake in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific North division.
Salt Lake saw a five-run lead evaporate in a 10-9 loss to Colorado Springs.
Tacoma (70-65) , seeking to advance to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 1981-82, has eight games remaining in the regular season.
Next up is a four-game home series starting today with Colorado Springs.
“It’s nice to pick up a game (on Salt Lake City). I do like our chances with eight games left,” Castro said, “but there’s a lot of baseball left. Colorado Springs has been swinging the bat hard and has been playing really well.”
Mangini and Nelson, who had a season-high five RBI, each posted their first multiple-homer game this season.
Mangini had four hits, extending his hitting streak to a team-best seven games. He is batting .576 (19-for-33) with four home runs and six RBI over that stretch. The streak is the infielder’s seventh this season of at least five games and longest since a team-high 18-game run in July.
Tacoma also got four RBI from Greg Halman and three hits from Alfonzo, whose solo shot in the fourth gave the Rainiers the lead for good at 6-5.
Mangini and Carp then opened Tacoma’s four-run fifth inning with back-to-back home runs. Nelson drove in Justin Smoak, and Halman closed out the inning with an RBI double, pushing the Rainiers’ advantage to 10-5.
The Beavers (55-81) countered with three runs in the sixth to close to 10-8 before Mangini answered in Tacoma’s half of the inning with his 18th homer on the year and Nelson belted his 17th to rebuild the lead to five.
Tacoma’s seven homers pushed their league-leading total to 172, six ahead of last year’s PCL-leading total. The team has hit 16 home runs over the past four games.
The Beavers jumped on Tacoma starter Blake Beavan early, scoring four runs in the first inning.
The Rainiers scored at least one run in each of the first six innings and four in the eighth to match their season-high in runs. The team also scored 17 against Las Vegas on May 29.
The Rainiers begin their final home series today at 7 p.m. against Colorado Springs. Mauricio Robles (1-1, 4.50 ERA) gets the start for Tacoma. The Sky Sox counter with Josh Muecke (7-6, 5.24).