It took six tries, but the Tacoma Rainiers have finally won a series on the road.
Tacoma scored six runs over the final two innings to pick up a 7-3 come-from-behind victory at Sacramento on Friday night. The Rainiers won the series, three games to one.
With the Pacific Coast League schedule composed almost entirely of four-game series, a series win on the road can be hard to attain.
Five times previously this season, Tacoma won two of the first three games of an away series — only to lose the fourth game, and settle for a split.
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It looked like that trend was going to continue.
Sacramento starting pitcher Joan Gregorio was in command for seven innings, holding Tacoma to one run on six hits. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter, and he left the game after 97 pitches with a 3-1 lead.
The Rainiers rallied in the eighth inning against River Cats relievers Steven Okert and Mike Broadway. And they had some big help from a porous Sacramento infield.
Guillermo Heredia opened the eighth inning by reaching on an error by River Cats shortstop (and former New York Mets infielder) Ruben Tejada. Luis Sardinas followed with a grounder off the glove of third baseman Mitch Delfino for back-to-back errors.
Tacoma took advantage of the miscues. Stefen Romero singled to load the bases, and Efren Navarro singled in Heredia to make it 3-2.
Broadway replaced Okert, and Mike Zunino greeted him with a game-tying sacrifice fly to right field to tie the game.
After Patrick Kivlehan lined to third for the second out of the inning, Rob Brantly grounded a base hit into right field, scoring Romero with the go-ahead run. A passed ball moments later brought in another run, and Tacoma had scored four unearned runs in the inning and held a 5-3 lead.
Heredia added an RBI double in the ninth inning. The speedy center fielder from Cuba went 2 for 5 in his Triple-A debut, scoring two runs and driving in another.
Rainiers roster moves continued on Friday. Pitchers Donn Roach and David Rollins were promoted to Seattle, and Boog Powell was moved to the restricted list. Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen joined the team from Seattle, while outfielder Guillermo Heredia and Kraig Sitton came up from
Double-A Jackson. … Sitton had been sent to Jackson on Thursday — he flew from Sacramento to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Jackson was playing on Thursday, and flew right back to Sacramento on Friday.
The road trip moves on to Fresno for four games, beginning with Saturday’s tilt at 7:05 p.m. Tacoma starts Cody Martin (5-5, 4.82) against Fresno’s Mike Hauschild (5-6, 3.18).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers