Opportunities to hit with the bases loaded haven't come up often recently for Dennis Raben, so when his chance came -- three times -- Monday, he made sure to take advantage.
The Angels first-base prospect tallied a career-high seven RBIs and launched a grand slam in a decisive six-run ninth inning as Class A Advanced Inland Empire beat Lake Elsinore, 12-7, at The Diamond.
"I got a lot of opportunities," Raben said. "I came up three times tonight with the bases loaded. I don't know the stats or numbers, but I've maybe been up with the bases loaded three times in the last month-and-a-half or so. I got some good opportunities."
In half of the University of Miami product's trips to the plate, the bags were packed with 66ers. Raben began Inland Empire's charge back from a four-run deficit with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth and then came through with a two-run single in the eighth to level the score.
Raben's biggest moment, though, came in the ninth. With the go-ahead run already in, the 66ers were searching for insurance when Chad Hinshaw was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a second tally and bring Raben to the plate for the last time.
"He got hit by the pitch and I was like, 'Well, here we go. Third time,'" Raben said. "[Storm reliever Genison Reyes] fell behind in the count, and I was seeing him pretty good. Then he left one up in the zone that I put a pretty good swing on."
Raben blasted his 18th home run of the season to right field. The long ball continued a second-half offensive surge that has seen the 27-year-old bat .350/.399/.614 with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs in 36 games since the All-Star Break compared with .208/.295/.422 with eight jacks and 24 RBIs in 43 games before it.
"I definitely made some adjustments," said the 2008 Mariners second-round pick, who also collected leadoff singles in the fourth and seventh. "When the Angels first picked me up earlier this year, I definitely caught myself trying to do a little too much early on instead of doing what I normally do. That created some bad habits mechanically and stuff that took a little bit to iron out.
"The last month-and-a-half or two months, I've stuck with the routine, worked with our hitting coach (Brent Del Chiaro) and stayed consistent with my routine and my approach. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable at the plate these last couple of months."
Every member of Inland Empire's lineup had at least one hit in the win. Of the team's 16 hits, four went for extra bases. Leadoff man Sherman Johnson hit his 10th homer to open the game.
"Any time that everyone gets involved, it's a lot of fun," Raben said. "We've all been on the side of the team scoring 10 runs, getting 11 hits, and you're the guy who went 0-for-4 or something like that. It's so nice when everyone's involved."
Reyes (0-1) was charged with six runs -- one earned -- on three hits and a walk in one inning.
Inland Empire's Chris O'Grady (2-4) went the final three innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out four and walking one to pick up the win.