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09/05/2008 12:58 AM ET
Conrad powers Cats past Bees
Slugger belts two of Sacramento's five homers in 8-3 rout of Salt Lake
Brooks Conrad homered twice to help Sacramento even its series on Thursday. (David Godinez/MLB.com)

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Sacramento needed a big win and Brooks Conrad was happy to provide one.

Conrad hit two of Sacramento's five home runs as the River Cats evened their first-round playoff series with an 8-3 victory over the Salt Lake Bees at Raley Field on Thursday.

Donnie Murphy, Chris Denorfia and Casey Rogowski also went deep for the River Cats, who bounced back from Wednesday's 13-10 loss in the opener of the best-of-5 series.

"It was absolutely huge," said Conrad, who also homers in Game 1. "It wasn't a must-win, but it was definitely a big win. We got the odds back even, so it was a huge win."

The Arizona State product slugged a one-out solo homer in the second inning off Bees starter Anthony Ortega (0-1) and a two-run blast off Henry Bonilla in the eighth.

"I'm just trying to calm myself down and put the ball in play more consistently," Conrad said. "I got a couple of pitches I could handle and got them on the bat. It felt good. Anytime you can help your team, it feels good."

Conrad's last two-homer effort came on April 26 against Colorado Springs. He appeared in six games with parent-club Oakland this summer, while hitting .243 with 28 homers and 91 RBIs in 117 games for Sacramento.

The 28-year-old second baseman had 14 RBIs against Salt Lake this season, second most on the team.

"We've played them a lot," he said. "We've been going back and forth with the best record, so it's always a big series-type atmosphere when we play these guys. It means that much more playing a team like this. You go out there and get excited to play. It worked out, and we hope to keep that going."

Rogowski homered in the second before Murphy and Denorfia added solo drives in the fifth. Salt Lake cut the deficit to 5-3 in the eighth, but Wes Bankston delivered an RBI double before Conrad's second longball capped the scoring.

"I don't think we've hit that many in a game too often, so it's nice to do that in the playoffs," Conrad added. "They threw some real good pitches at us, but we've got some guys swinging hot bats now. Hopefully we can keep it going."

Rehabbing Oakland starter Sean Gallagher (1-0) allowed four hits and two walks with four strikeouts over five scoreless innings. On the 15-day disabled list with shoulder fatigue, Gallagher threw 38 of his 71 pitches for strikes.

All-Star Futures Game selection Brett Anderson picked up the save in his Triple-A debut, despite allowing three runs on six hits over four innings.

"It was great. He came in and threw a great game for us," Conrad said of Gallagher. "Anderson threw a great one for us too."

Acquired in July from the Chicago Cubs, Gallagher made his first Minor League appearance since starting for Iowa on April 28.

"It was nice to have him come down," added Conrad. "He came out and threw a great game and we're definitely happy we have him for the playoff run."

Ortega was reached for five runs on six hits over five innings.

Chris Walker smacked a two-run double in the eighth and scored on Brad Coon's RBI single for the Bees. Box score

In other PCL action:

Oklahoma Redhawks 8, Iowa Cubs 2
Derek Lee tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings to help the visiting RedHawks even their first-round playoff series with the Cubs. Casey Benjamin's two-run double highlighted a five-run second inning for Oklahoma. Travis Metcalf added a solo homer in the third. Box score

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.