Tacoma's Alex Liddi covered his bases -- all the bases.
Liddi collected the first three-homer game of his six-year career Thursday, going deep to all three fields against three different hurlers as part of the the Rainiers' 12-4 rout of the host Albuquerque Isotopes.
The Italian-born Liddi became the 14th Minor Leaguer this season to lift three longballs in one game and the second so far this month. Rookie-level Orem's C.J. Cron accomplished the feat in Ogden on Tuesday.
Liddi took Tim Sexton (3-6) to center field in the third inning, David Pfeiffer to left in the sixth and Roy Corcoran to right in the eighth. How was he able to go with the outside offering and pull his hands in on time for the inside pitch?
"It was just one of those days," he said.
And he was due for one. Liddi, who turns 23 on Aug. 14, entered Thursday batting .167 over his past 11 games to drop his season average to .254.
Add in his fourth-inning single, and he ended up 4-for-6 overall with five RBIs and four runs scored. Seattle's farmhand -- he joined the organization as a free agent in September 2005 and was a Futures Game selection last month -- fell one hit shy matching of a second career best. While playing for Class A Wisconsin, now a Brewers affiliate, the right-handed swinger went 5-for-5.
"I was just thinking, 'Put the ball in play,' because lately I have been struggling a lot, striking out," said Liddi, whose 137 whiffs this season lead the Pacific Coast League. "When I got the first home run, I got more confidence."
The infielder also made a physical adjustment prior to his breakout game, taking a step back in the batter's box.
"I was trying to get off the plate a little more, to see breaking pitches better," said Liddi, who struck a slider for his first dinger. "I was talking with our hitting coach, and he helped me with that."
Wily Mo Pena's presence couldn't have hurt either. The Mariners signed the 29-year-old slugger July 27, and he homered twice Thursday. He went back-to-back with Liddi in the the third, then launched a three-run blast in the fourth.
"They probably prefer to face me [rather] than him," said Liddi, who batted third, one spot ahead of his new teammate.
Liddi and Pena both have 24 home runs this season, which is good for fourth-most among PCL hitters. That number is a new single-season career high for the former, whose excitement is tempered by his recent slide.
"I have figured out some things," he said, "but I have to be more consistent, less up-and-down."
Pena went 3-for-5 with four RBIs, Carlos Peguero went 4-for-5 and Luis Rodriguez went 3-for-6 to pilot the Rainiers' 20-hit parade.
Anthony Vasquez (4-2) allowed four runs on nine hits over six innings for the win.