The Tacoma Rainiers finally delivered some much-needed run support for top pitching prospect Michael Pineda.
When Pineda left after 5ª innings with a four-run lead Monday night, Round Rock scored three runs over the next two innings to tie it , eliminating the chance for the 21-year-old to pick up his fourth Pacific Coast League win.
But, for the second consecutive game, the Rainiers won it on an extra-inning walk-off home run, this time on Dustin Ackley’s solo shot for a 7-6 series-finale victory over the Express in 10 innings at Cheney Stadium.
“We don’t want to be doing that, when you have the lead like that, and then lose it.” Rainiers manager Jose Castro said. “But the guys kept battling.”
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Ackley, who finished 3-for-6, was the first batter in the bottom of the 10th and belted a 3-1 pitch off Express reliever Chris Sampson over the right-field fence.
On Sunday, Mike Carp’s three-run home run in the 10th inning gave Tacoma an 8-5 win.
Tacoma committed four errors, but none bigger than the throwing error by shortstop Jeffrey Dominguez that allowed J.B. Shuck to score from third to tie it at 6 in the ninth to force extra innings for the third game in a row.
Tacoma’s win – combined with Salt Lake’s 7-6 loss to Nashville – means the Rainiers regain the Pacific North Division lead by a half-game over the Bees.
In Pineda’s previous three starts, the team struggled to score runs and Monday was his third no-decision in his past four starts. You’d have to go back to July 18, when the Rainiers scored nine runs, for Pineda’s last win.
The Rainiers (64-58) gave Pineda a big lead against the Express . Tacoma rocked starter Jordan Lyles, the only 19-year-old to play in the PCL this season, for five runs on 11 hits in 4† before he left with the bases loaded.
Carp and Brad Nelson each had two- run doubles in that gave Tacoma a 4-1 first-inning lead.
Since Pineda is approaching his career-high in innings pitched, the coaching staff has been cautious about scaling back to save his arm.
He was lifted in his two previous starts after three innings – a no-decision Aug. 8 against Omaha and a loss Aug. 2 against Reno, and was on an 85-pitch count Monday.
He has pitched 55ª innings since being called up from Double-A West Tennessee in late June.
Pineda struck out seven batters Monday – all swinging – and left with two on and one out in the sixth.
The only extra-base hit Pineda surrendered was a solo home run by Tommy Manzella that gave Round Rock (50-73) a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
“(He) threw the ball well,” Castro said. “We want to take care of him. The pitch count was 85 and he was right at it.”
The Rainiers begin a four-game home series with Albuquerque at 7 p.m. today. Tacoma sends left-hander Ryan Feierabend (3-5, 5.23 ERA) to the mound against the Isotopes right-hander Tim Corcoran (5-8, 7.04), brother of former Mariners pitcher Roy Corcoran.