Shane Peterson may have one eye on the calendar, but he still manages to focus completely on hitting when he steps into the batter's box.
"I'm trying to grind out at-bats as best I can," he said. "I really want to make these last two weeks of the season count."
The A's farmhand made each opportunity count Saturday night, going 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles, four RBIs and a run scored to lead Triple-A Sacramento to an 11-5 victory over Tucson.
The victory gave the River Cats sole possession of first place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division, a game ahead of Las Vegas.
Peterson put Sacramento on the board with a first-inning single off Tucson starter and Padres No. 15 prospect Robbie Erlin. Facing Erlin (7-3) again in the fourth, he fought through a 10-pitch at-bat and knocked a double to center field that lifted the River Cats into a 4-4 tie.
"Really, I was just trying to put the ball in play," Peterson said. "There was a runner on with two outs, I at least wanted to make the defense do something. If you strike out, it's real easy for them. I kept missing and missing, but it was close enough. Then I put a good swing on one."
Despite besting Erlin in consecutive matchups, Peterson was impressed with the 22-year-old left-hander.
"I faced him last year. I hadn't faced him this season, even though he'd pitched against us, so it'd been a while," he said. "He's a good pitcher. He's got good stuff and he's still pretty young. He's got the stuff to make it."
With four hits already under his belt and with Sacramento leading, 9-4, Peterson had no reason to feel pressure during his seventh-inning at-bat. But he didn't take it lightly, either.
"For me, like I said, these last couple weeks, I want to make sure every at-bat is a good at-bat," he said. "I'd had quite a few hits already, but I didn't want to waste it, especially considering the way some things went earlier in the season. There's a lot of the season I want to try to make up for. I want to make sure I'm up there, making at-bats count."
Peterson hit .326 between Double-A Midland and Sacramento last season, but his average -- now at .248 -- sank below .230 at several points this year, most recently on July 30.
"It's hard to say whether [at-bats] were wasted. I definitely didn't have the season I was looking for," he said. "But at the same time, I was always doing my best and putting in my best effort. At the time, I was always doing what I could to give my team the best chance to win."
The 25-year-old, who served as the River Cats' DH on Saturday, saw six pitches in his final at-bat of the night. He slapped the last one for another RBI double to center off reliever Jorge Reyes.
"He threw me a splitter early and I missed it," Peterson said. "I had an idea he'd come back with it -- I wasn't sitting on it, but I thought he'd throw it again. He did and I didn't want to get too big or try to do too much with it."
While Peterson wants to produce quality at-bats as the playoffs approach, he also feels two weeks is almost too much time.
"There's lots of baseball to play," he said. "Here in Sac, there's such a tradition of winning, so we definitely want to distance ourselves from Vegas."
Anthony Aliotti, the A's No. 19 prospect who was promoted to Triple-A on July 18, went 4-for-4 with a triple, three RBIs and a run scored.
"Aliotti had a great game," Peterson said. "He tore it up down in Midland. It's tough to do in that park, especially for lefties, and in that league. Up here, he's been battling. Hopefully, he can continue to swing the bat well and build on tonight."
A's left-hander Brett Anderson, sidelined since April with a stress fracture in his foot, made a rehab start for the River Cats and gave up two runs on three hits over 2 1/3 innings. He walked three batters and struck out two.