RENO - The Tacoma Rainiers faced the Pacific Coast League's top home run-hitting team on a night with a 26 mph wind blowing out to right field.
The results were predictable.
The Reno Aces hit six home runs, including a walk-off blast by former Rainiers outfielder David Winfree, and beat the Rainiers, 13-12, in a wild 12-inning game.
Winfree, who starred for the Rainiers’ PCL championship team last year, launched a no-doubt-about-it blast to straightaway center field off Josh Lueke with two outs to end the game.
Tacoma (6-15) blew two leads in the late innings while the wind was howling.
Tacoma’s lead was as large as five runs. Matt Tuiasosopo connected on an opposite-field three-run homer in the top of the sixth inning to give the Rainiers a 9-4 lead.
Tuiasosopo went 3-for-5 with a season-high five RBI.
Rainiers reliever Denny Bautista was unable to preserve a four-run lead. Reno scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the score, 9-9. Wily Mo Peña and Cody Ransom each homered off Bautista.
Peña’s home run was his seventh of the year, tying Tucson’s Anthony Rizzo for the PCL lead. Peña has hit safely in all 16 games he has played this season, and he has 23 RBI.
The Rainiers rallied for three runs in the top of the eighth to regain the lead, 12-9. Alex Liddi lined a two-out RBI single to left, and Matt Mangini followed with a wind-aided two-run double to left field.
Tacoma reliever Chris Smith walked Tony Abreu to lead off the bottom of the eight – an ominous sign, as Abreu had not walked in 83 at-bats on the season.
Collin Cowgill singled to left, then Cole Gillespie hit his professional-baseball leading seventh triple of the season to right field, driving in two runs.
Gillespie scored on a sacrifice fly by Winfree, tying the game at 12.
Neither team scored again until Winfree connected off Lueke. Lueke (0-1) pitched 1† scoreless innings before Winfree’s homer.
Winfree hit .315 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI in 57 games for Tacoma after joining the team in mid-June. He added two more homers and five RBI while batting .375 in the postseason.
Winfree was a minor league free agent after the 2010 season. Before the game, Winfree said that the Mariners made him a strong offer, but he signed with Arizona because he thought he had a better major league opportunity with the Diamondbacks.
Daniel Stange (2-0) pitched two perfect innings of relief to earn the win for Reno, which improved to 14-6.
Tacoma’s Mike Carp left the game with an undisclosed injury after singling in a run in the top of the fourth inning. The Rainiers set season-highs for runs and hits (15). Tacoma’s Dustin Ackley drew two walks and he leads the PCL with 16.
The second game of the four-game series is at 6:05 p.m. today (broadcast on 850-AM). Blake Beavan (1-0, 4.50 ERA) starts for Tacoma against Reno’s Micah Owings (3-0, 2.81).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.