It took only one swing of left fielder’s Patrick Kivlehan’s bat to give the Tacoma Rainiers all the runs they would need to halt their three-game losing streak and defeat the Salt Lake Bees, 3-2, in front of 5,801 fans Wednesday night at Cheney Stadium.
Those runs came in the fifth inning.
Leon Landry made it to third after Justin Ruggiano grounded into a double play and Jabari Blash drew a walk on six pitches.
Kivlehan stepped to the plate looking to make something happen. Working with a full count, Kivlehan crushed a ball into left-center field for a home run, giving the Rainiers a 3-1 lead.
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“I just wanted to stay aggressive,” Kivlehan said. “The last couple at-bats, I was a little off with my timing and a little late on the fastball. I just wanted to make sure I was on time for that fastball in case I got it, and I did.”
The lead was challenged in the ninth inning.
Tacoma’s Edgar Olmos came back out after striking out the side in the eighth and quickly picked up two outs. But two singles put runners on the corners.
Danny Farquhar was warmed up and ready to get the final out. He quickly got ahead 0-2 in the count and a routine ground ball ended the game.
Tacoma’s Roenis Elias, coming off his best start in Triple-A this season, looked shaky early. In the first inning, he gave up a solo homer that put the Rainiers in catch-up mode. In the third, he had to escape a bases-loaded jam.
After that, he got into a groove and settled in.
Elias allowed just the one earned run and threw 61/3 innings of six-hit baseball, striking out five and yielding two walks.
“It’s his best start this year for us,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “His last two starts have been really good. His command has been better. He’s a competitor. I don’t think he’s pitched a game this year where he didn’t say, ‘One more inning.’”
Listach said he will let his team enjoy the win, but then it’s back to business.
“You can’t let one win get you too high or one loss get you too low,” he said. “We’ve got to come back out and compete tomorrow.”
Blash has been hot since returning to the Rainiers on July 16. He has recorded a base hit in all but one game and has reached base in every game. … Ketel Marte continues to struggle since returning from a broken thumb. His average has dropped from .334 to .313 since returning on July 16. … Jesus Montero’s second game back with the Rainiers after a brief stint with the Mariners went well. He was 3 for 4.
The series against Salt Lake concludes at 7 p.m. Thursday with right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (0-1, 4.50 ERA) taking the mound for Tacoma. He will face Salt Lake lefty Adam Wilk (3-7, 5.80 ERA).