Matt LaPorta headed to Columbus earlier this week, determined to get better and contribute to a first-place team. It didn't take him long to do so.
LaPorta slugged three homers in his second game back at the Triple-A level Wednesday, powering the Clippers to an 8-0 rout of the Rochester Red Wings.
The former first-round pick was reassigned to Columbus on Monday as the Indians sought to find him more consistent playing time. He was hitting .218 with a homer and seven RBIs in 35 games and went 0-for-3 for the Clippers on Tuesday.
"I was in the big leagues at one point and now I'm back here," he told the Columbus Dispatch. "The goal is to get back to the big leagues, so you would think there is a little more pressure down here. I just hadn't hit any balls out of the ballpark up there."
LaPorta took care of that drought with a solo shot in the second inning. He added a two-run blast in the fifth and capped his first career three-homer game with a leadoff shot in the seventh.
LaPorta became the 10th player in Clippers' history to hit three homers in a game and the first since Mitch Jones on April 17, 2005. Curt Roberts holds the team record with four homers against Havana on Aug. 27, 1956.
The five RBIs tied a career best for LaPorta, who also drove in five runs on July 2, 2009 against Toledo.
"It always helps when you hit the ball on the barrel," he said. "It just doesn't happen every night."
"I didn't see a lot of [LaPorta's] games in Cleveland, but it sounded like he wasn't getting a lot of extra-base hits and driving the ball," Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh told the newspaper. "Sometimes you've got to take a step back to take a couple of steps forward. Tonight was a good step in the right direction for him."
Josh Rodriguez chipped in a solo homer and scored twice for the Clippers (36-24), who had lost four of their previous five games but have a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place Indianapolis in the International League Western Division.
Carlos Carrasco (5-2) was the beneficiary of LaPorta's career night. The right-hander struck out nine and allowed three hits over eight shutout innings to win his third straight start.