FRESNO, CALIF. – Dustin Ackley gave Tacoma an instant lead, and Blake Beavan made it stand up Wednesday night.
Tacoma, on its way north to open remodeled Cheney Stadium on Friday night, ended a three-game Pacific Coast League losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Fresno Grizzlies.
Leading off the game, Ackley worked a full count against Fresno starter Shane Loux before depositing a pitch over the center field wall, 400 feet from home plate.
It was the first home run of the season for Ackley, who entered the game batting .167.
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“Right off the bat, he gives us a 1-0 lead,” said Tacoma manager Daren Brown. “That’s big when you’ve had a couple of games like we’ve had right in a row.”
Beavan pitched six innings to earn his first win of the season. He allowed four hits – all singles – and the only run he allowed was unearned, coming home after an errant pickoff throw by catcher Josh Bard.
Using mostly his fastball, Beavan did not walk a batter while striking out four.
“His fastball had late life on it, and they didn’t have good swings at it,” Brown said. “He got his offspeed over, and he mixed his pitches well.”
Brown indicated that Beavan’s fastballs were reaching 90-93 mph, a few clicks faster than he was throwing last season, but that the pitch’s “late movement” was what made it successful.
Tacoma took the lead for good in the top of the fifth.
With the score tied at 1-all, Bard opened the inning by pulling a double down the right-field line, extending his hitting streak to five games.
Johan Limonta was the next hitter. Promoted from Class-AA Jackson and weary from cross-country travel, Limonta lashed a line-drive single to right center. Bard was going to stop at third base, but when Fresno center fielder Darren Ford bobbled the ball, Bard scored the go-ahead run.
Tacoma (3-4) added another run in the eighth, when Sean Kazmar singled home Leury Bonilla.
Brown used three relievers to work through the final three innings. Cesar Jimenez, Justin Miller and Royce Ring closed out the win.
Ring set down the side in order in the ninth, striking out two hitters to earn his first save.
To make room for Limonta on the roster, infielder Jetsy Extrano was sent to extended spring training in Arizona. Outfielder Mike Wilson missed his second straight game with a sore shoulder after crashing into the outfield wall on Monday in Fresno. Brown indicated that he might be able to return to the lineup today. Fresno’s Emmanuel Burris stole his 12th base in the team’s seventh game.
This season-opening trip ends with a 7:05 p.m. game today that will be broadcast on 850-AM. Tacoma is expected to start Chris Seddon (0-0, 0.00 ERA), and Fresno is likely to use Matt Yourkin (0-1, 13.50).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.