TACOMA, Wash. -- Matt Palmer tossed six shutout innings as the Tacoma Rainiers rolled to a 7-0 shutout win over the Sacramento River Cats in front of a sold out crowd of 7,280 at Cheney Stadium on Friday night.
Palmer limited the River Cats to three hits, walked one and struck out a season-high six batters on the way to collecting his second win in his 13th start this season. Relievers Blake Beavan (1.0) and Logan Kensing (2.0) sealed the victory after tossing a combined three scoreless frames out of the bullpen.
The Rainiers rattled off 12 hits in their series opener with Sacramento, beginning with five consecutive singles to lead off the bottom of the first inning - an effort that translated into three runs. Justin Smoak hit a bases-loaded single that drove in Abraham Almonte and Nick Franklin to put Tacoma up 2-0. Nate Tenbrink plated one more with a ground out that scored Ji-Man Choi.
Humberto Quintero stretched Tacoma's lead to 4-0 after scoring on a wild pitch in the second inning. The Rainiers tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Choi doubled to center to drive in Almonte with one out, and Franklin accounted for the team's sixth run after scoring on another wild pitch two at-bats later.
The final run arrived when Almonte's two-out double cleared the way for the catcher Quintero to score in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Almonte, Choi, Smoak and outfielder Xavier Avery ended the night with two-hit efforts. Almonte, Choi and Avery each turned in doubles and Smoak led the club with a pair of RBI.
Following tonight's win, Tacoma (53-53) boasts a .500 record for the first time since May 19. The victory also moves the club within 7.0 games of the first-place River Cats in the Pacific Northern Division standings for the first time since May 24.
The Rainiers host the second and third games of a five-game series with Sacramento (60-46) as part of a doubleheader that begins at 6 p.m. tomorrow, July 26. Left-hander James Gillheeney (3-7, 5.75) is slated to start for Tacoma in the first game against River Cats right-hander Zach Neal (3-5, 4.48). RHP Forrest Snow (1-1, 1.07) will start for the Rainiers in the second game.
Each game is scheduled to last seven innings, with the second game scheduled to start approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.
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