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Balentien lifts Rainiers past Bees04/24/2007 10:48 PM ET
By Ryan McConnell / Special to MLB.com
Wladimir Balentien was seeing the ball well from the get-go Tuesday.
In the first inning, he put the Rainiers on the board with a two-run blast, extending his hitting streak to a Pacific Coast League-best 17 games. He added another homer and went 4-for-5 with five RBIs as visiting Tacoma outlasted Salt Lake, 12-11.
"I was waiting on a fastball, middle-in," said Balentien of the initial dinger. After Bees starter Jonathon Rouwenhorst threw two offspeed pitches, he gave Balentien the pitch he wanted. "I tried to hit it on a line and it just went out."
Balentien, who is hitting .380 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 18 games for Tacoma (8-12), had a two-run single in the second, a solo homer in the fourth and a base hit in the sixth. He tied the career-best hitting streak he put together with Class A Advanced Inland Empire in August 2005.
After a mixed season for Double-A San Antonio last season -- a .230 batting average with 22 home runs and 82 RBIs with 140 strikeouts in 444 at-bats -- Balentien changed his approach this spring.
"My coach told me to just try and be a singles-and-doubles hitter and the power will come," he said. "I have a real level swing this year. It gives me more time to hit fastballs."
The 22-year-old native of Curacao also said he's better able to manage his temper when he fails this year.
"When I was young, I always thought [getting angry] was what I wanted to do. But now, I'm growing up," Balentien said. "I've been playing around more veteran guys and they tell me to be a man. I try to learn from them. I think I'm doing a good job."
Tacoma outfielder Jeremy Reed belted a go-ahead, run-scoring double in the sixth. He finished with three runs scored. Mike Morse added three hits, including a solo homer in the ninth, and Gookie Dawkins went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and fell a home run short of the cycle.
Rainiers reliever Sean Green (2-1) recorded the win after tossing three scoreless and hitless frames, striking out four while walking one. Byron Embry earned his first save, retiring one batter while not allowing a hit and walking one.
Salt Lake reliever Chris Resop (0-1) took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits while striking out three and walking one in 2 1/3 innings.
Brandon Wood's bases-clearing double in the fourth gave the Bees (12-8) a 7-6 lead. Matthew Brown went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs, and Jeff Mathis chipped in three hits and three runs.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.