Justin Smoak hit two home runs, but it wasn’t enough to secure a win for the Tacoma Rainiers in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday night at Cheney Stadium. The Rainiers lost to the Sacramento River Cats, 8-5, in seven innings.
The second game of the doubleheader was in progress at press time.
In the opener, the River Cats’ Shane Peterson gave Sacramento a lead in the second inning after reaching base on the first of his three hits. He scored on a single after knocking a triple to the gap in right field.
The lead didn’t last long, however. Nate Tenbrink, recently activated off the disabled list, hit a solo home run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game, 1-1.
It was Tenbrink’s first homer of the year. The outfielder played only one game for the Rainiers this spring before going on the DL with a back injury. He returned to the lineup Friday after a rehab start July 22 in Everett, and is hitting .222 with two RBIs for Tacoma.
He missed 104 games.
After back-to-back walks to open the third, another River Cats triple and a sacrifice fly made the score 4-1. It was the first time Tacoma’s given up two triples all year.
Smoak cut the lead to two with a home run in the fourth, but the River Cats — who lead the division — wouldn’t be denied their 61st win. They scored four runs in the fifth inning, three of which came off a homer to right by Daric Barton.
James Gilheeney was the starting pitcher for the Rainiers — he lasted 42/3 innings, giving up five hits and six runs with three strikeouts.
Smoak’s second home run was good for two more runs, but the River Cats held on to improve to 61-46. The Rainiers’ record, meanwhile, fell to 53-54.
Philip Humber started for the River Cats in the second game. Mariners fans will remember Humber, who pitched the 21st perfect game in major league history against Seattle on April 21, 2012, as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
Since then he’s toiled in the minor leagues. He was pitching well Saturday, however. Through the first four innings, he had allowed just one hit to go along with a strikeout.
But his opponent, Rainiers right-hander Forrest Snow, overshadowed Humber, at least in the beginning. Snow was perfect through the first three innings before giving up a single in the fourth to Jake Elmore.
A pop fly ended the inning, but Snow, who was pitching on just three days rest, gave up a run in the fifth and was pulled from the game after allowing a double. That run gave the River Cats a 1-0 lead.
Tacoma hosts the River Cats at 1:35 p.m. Sunday. Left-handed pitcher James Paxton (0-1, 6.00 ERA), on rehab assignment from the Mariners, will face left-hander Drew Pomeranz (0-0, 4.50 ERA). The game can be heard on 850-AM.