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Kevin Howard was lights-out on Thursday night. Actually, the lights went out on Howard.
Either way, Howard homered three times Thursday before a power outage halted play between Tacoma and Portland. His big night became official on Friday, when the Rainiers finished off an 11-2 win at PGE Park.
"It was a good night. It was definitely the first time I've ever done that," Howard said. "That's new territory."
Howard went 3-for-4 with homers in three straight at-bats, slugging a two-run shot in the third inning and solo blasts in the fifth and seventh. The third homer came moments before an area power outage shut off the lights at PGE Park. A second outage later in the game prompted umpires to suspend the game.
"I'm just kind of at the point now where I'm happy to get the hits rather than the home runs," Howard said. "I just haven't felt comfortable too much this year, so it's nice just hit some balls hard."
Playing baseball in total darkness can't be a comfortable feeling, either. Howard was still being congratulated for his third homer when the ballpark lost electricity.
"I'm not sure, I heard something about a tree falling, that's the explanation I got," Howard said. "It wasn't immediately after the third homer, it was right after the next batter and then the lights went out. It was kind of weird, I've never had the lights go out on me, so that was a first."
It also was the first three-homer game of Howard's six-year career and his biggest night since going 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs against his former team, the Las Vegas 51s, on Aug. 15.
The mood, Howard said, was a little unusual.
"It was pretty dark and then the emergency lights came on," he explained. "It definitely was interesting."
The game resumed briefly, but for all Howard knows, a second tree may have fallen somewhere in the Oregon night.
"We started the game again and then the power went off again, so they called it," he laughed.
The big night was a welcome diversion for Howard, who's dealt with injuries this season.
"I got hurt and missed a month and a half, so that was the big blow," Howard said said of his sprained MCL. "It's tough to miss a month and come back sharp. I came back and got hurt again, so this is the first time I've been playing every day, completely healthy, since May."
With time to literally sleep on the possibility of a fourth homer, Howard was just glad to contribute.
"[I thought about it] a little bit, but it was already a good game, no matter what," he said after flying out in his next at-bat Friday. "If I was to hit another, it would be that much better, but I wasn't disappointed, I wasn't upset."
While the three homers were a personal best, the four RBIs fell short of a career high -- he drove in seven runs for Class A Lakewood on June 10, 2007.
The University of Miami product has played for six Major League organizations in six seasons. Selected by Cincinnati in the fifth round of the 2002 Draft, he was batting .257 with three homers and 27 RBIs on Aug. 5 when he was released from Triple-A Las Vegas. He signed with the Mariners three days later and joined Tacoma, where he's batting .294 with six homers and 11 RBIs in 10 games.
"It's difficult," he said. "Just getting to know new people and teammates and getting people to know you is also difficult. I'm lucky in that our hitting coach [Alonzo Powell] was with me with the Reds, so he knows my swing. He's been really good for me so far."
Brandon Morrow started for Tacoma on Friday and struck out 10 over 4 2/3 innings before Justin Thomas (1-1) tossed 1 1/3 scoreless frames for the win.
Major League veteran Justin Germano (2-7) was reached for eight runs -- six earned -- on seven hits over five innings for Portland.
Danny Wild is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.