Hunter plates eight in Portland win

Third-rounder smacks two of 10 longballs in 29-run slugfest

Cedric Hunter doubled his previous career high of four RBIs. (Bill Mitchell/Four Seam Images)

By Paige Schector / | August 26, 2010 10:46 PM

Every day when Portland's Cedric Hunter prepares to go to the ballpark, he pictures himself having the best game imaginable.

On Thursday, he outdid himself. The Padres outfield prospect doubled his previous career high with a franchise-record eight RBIs as the Triple-A Beavers outslugged the host Tacoma Rainiers, 17-12.

"You always want to have high standards," Hunter said. "You want to picture yourself having a good day. But this was something else. It wasn't even the best [batting practice] of my life. Sometimes something just clicks during the game and you get locked in."

The 2006 third-round pick, who had just 10 hits over his previous 14 games, attributed Thursday's success to keeping it simple and concentrating on hitting line drives -- a philosophy he's cultivated over the past season.

"But this was one of the craziest games I've ever seen," Hunter laughed. "Both teams never got out. It was like a college game."

In the first inning, Hunter plated a run with a double to right field and later scored on Jody Gerut's single. In the second, he smacked a three-run homer to right field off of hard-throwing Rainiers starter Michael Pineda.

"I was just thinking, 'Get a pitch to hit,'" Hunter said. "The guy was throwing pretty hard. I was right on it. I knew as soon as I hit it that it was gone."

Hunter plated another run with an RBI single to center in the fourth, recorded his only out by popping out in the fifth and singled to right in the seventh. He capped the night with a three-run shot off of Dan Cortes.

"The guy was throwing 99 [mph], I was thinking, 'Don't try to be in a rush because he's throwing so hard,'" Hunter said.

He collected four RBIs, his previous career high, twice with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in 2008. Since being promoted from San Antonio to Portland in late June, Hunter has hit .294 over 54 games, but he had only one longball with the Beavers coming into the game.

"I'm definitely learning every day," he said. "My swing is coming along a lot better than last year. I've been trying to keep the ball out of the air, just trying to hit more line drives down. Even the home runs were really line drives. I'm not going to be a home run hitter, even though I had this kind of game.

"I had a great year," Hunter added. "One of my goals that I accomplished was being called up to Triple-A. I wanted to show them I'm ready to play. I had a bad year last year and a good year this year. It's a good feeling."

Dusty Ryan knocked a grand slam and Sean Kazmar added a two-run shot and scored four times for Portland (53-79). With their sixth straight win, the Beavers also extended the team's road win streak to a franchise-high nine games.

Six Rainiers went deep in the game, including two home runs by Mike Karp. Tacoma's Matt Mangini and Tug Hulett both fell a triple short of the cycle, and 2008 first-rounder Justin Smoak finished with a homer and a single.

Paige Schector is an editor for Alex Raskin contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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