Jorge Piedra is making a case to be known as a clutch hitter.
Piedra's two-run single in the top of the seventh inning propelled the Sacramento River Cats to a 5-3 win over the New Orleans Zephyrs on Tuesday in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League Championship.
Nick Blasi slapped a two-out single in the seventh and moved to third when Lou Merloni reached on a throwing error by shortstop Anderson Hernandez. Piedra, hitless in his first three at-bats, singled to right off reliever Jon Adkins to snap a 2-2 tie.
"It was a 3-2 count, he threw one low and I hit it over the second baseman's head," Piedra said. "That kind of put it away."
The 28-year-old designated hitter has driven in seven runs in six postseason games for the River Cats, and all but one of those RBIs have come in the sixth inning or later.
"The hits I have, almost every one has been in a situation late in the game where they should have walked me," he said. "I just like to hit, whether it's clutch or not."
The best-of-5 series stays in New Orleans for Game 2 on Wednesday, and Piedra and his teammates know that taking a 2-0 lead to Sacramento would make things much easier.
"If we can take these first two, it will be hard for them to take three straight from us at home," Piedra said.
Brant Colamarino added insurance with a run-scoring single in the ninth for Sacramento. Nick Blasi went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.
"I showed up halfway through the year and they've been saying there's been a lot of [player] movement," said Piedra, who signed a Minor League contract with the A's on June 12. "They keep finding a way to win. I think we're just a good team and we have a lot of clutch hitting right now."
River Cats starter Shane Komine (1-0) allowed two runs on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts over six innings. Julio Manon tossed 1 2/3 scoreless frames and Ron Flores yielded a run on one hit while recording one out. Brad Ziegler tossed a perfect ninth for his first save.
David Newhan went 3-for-4 with a pair of solo homers for the Zephyrs. The 34-year-old second baseman also went deep twice against Oklahoma on Aug. 29 and is 7-for-11 in three playoff games.
New Orleans reliever Ryan Cullen (0-1) gave up an unearned run on one hit while retiring two batters in the seventh. Starter Adam Bostick yielded two runs on two hits, fanning nine and walking three in six frames.