SALT LAKE CITY - It may not have happened until the 20th game of the season, but the Tacoma Rainiers played a complete, all-around game on Tuesday night.
The Rainiers had timely hitting, excellent starting pitching, top-quality defense, and reliable relief – and it all added up to an 8-4 victory over the Salt Lake Bees.
Tacoma salvaged a split of the four-game series. The Rainiers (6-14) have won two successive games for the second time this season.
“It was good to see tonight,” said Tacoma manager Daren Brown. “It’s the best we’ve done with runners in scoring position – we had some guys looking to do some damage in those situations.”
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Alex Liddi put the Rainiers on the scoreboard by lining a tape-measure home run to left field in the second inning off Salt Lake starter Matt Shoemaker (0-2). Liddi’s second homer cleared the grass berm and sailed over a kid’s playground.
Carlos Peguero gave Tacoma a 3-1 lead in the third inning when he drove a two-out, two-run double to center.
Tacoma catcher Josh Bard chipped in a solo home run to lead off the seventh inning, and Mike Wilson doubled in both the seventh and the eighth for the Rainiers.
Fabio Castro (1-2) earned the win for Tacoma. After allowing an unearned run because of his own errant pickoff throw in the first inning, Castro settled down and made it through six innings giving up just three hits and one earned run.
“Castro was really good,” said Brown. “He went 100 pitches in six innings. He kept them off-balance a little bit – they hit a lot of foul balls or else he might have been able to go another inning.”
David Aardsma contributed a solid inning of relief in the eighth, protecting an 8-3 lead. Aardsma walked Andrew Romine on six pitches before allowing a first-pitch RBI triple to Tyson Auer. But he settled down and struck out Reggie Willits and Paul McAnulty before getting Jeff Baisley to ground out.
“I thought he had a little more life at the end of his fastball,” Brown said. “It’s a rehab appearance, and the main thing is at the end, how did he feel, and he said he felt good.”
Aardsma threw 21 pitches, 12 for strikes.
Denny Bautista struck out the side in a scoreless ninth inning as Tacoma pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts.
The Rainiers activated Wilson from the disabled list. Wilson, the Most Valuable Player in the 2010 PCL Championship Series, separated his shoulder crashing into the outfield fence during the Rainiers’ April 11 game at Fresno. To make room for Wilson, pitcher Chris Seddon was placed on the temporarily inactive list. Seddon is still scheduled to start on Saturday in Reno. Mike Carp tied his career high with his second stolen base of the season.
The Rainiers have their first day off of the season today. The trip resumes at 6:05 p.m. Thursday with a game at Reno. Luke French (0-3, 4.29 ERA) is scheduled to start for Tacoma against Reno’s Matt Torra (1-0, 3.18).