TACOMA, Wash. -- James Paxton's eight strong innings guided the Tacoma Rainiers to a 7-1 win over the Salt Lake Bees at Cheney Stadium on Tuesday night.
Paxton (8-11) limited the Bees to one unearned run on five hits over eight innings in his 26th start this season. The left-hander struck out seven batters and issued just one walk. Reliever Josh Kinney sealed the win after striking out two over a perfect inning of work in the ninth.
In the first game of his Major League rehab assignment with the Rainiers, catcher Mike Zunino led Tacoma to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Zunino hit a triple deep to center field with one out and then scored on Nate Tenbrink's ground out in the team's next at-bat.
The Bees tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the third only to have the Rainiers tally four more runs in the bottom of the inning. Rich Poythress hit a two RBI double with two outs, and Ji-Man Choi connected on a two-run home run one batter later.
Carlos Peguero stretched Tacoma's lead to 6-1 after belting a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the fifth - his team-leading 18th of the season. Poythress upped the Rainiers advantage six runs with a one-run homer in the eighth.
Poythress went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs to lead a Rainiers lineup that combined to collect nine hits on Tuesday. Choi also collected three hits and drove in two runs, and the rehabbing Zunino ended the night 1-for-2 with a triple, a walk and two runs scored.
Following tonight's win, the Rainiers are now three games behind the first-place Bees in the Pacific Northern Division standings with six games remaining this season. This marks the first time Tacoma has been within at least three games of the division lead since July 31.
The Rainiers (73-65) look to capture a series win when they host the third game of a four-game series with Salt Lake (76-62) at 7 p.m. tomorrow, August 28. Right-hander Andrew Carraway (6-7, 5.37) is slated to start for Tacoma against Bees' left-hander Dontrelle Willis (1-1, 5.74).
Every Rainiers game throughout the 2013 season can be heard live on South Sound Sports 850-AM and is available for online streaming at www.tacomarainiers.com.
To purchase season tickets, group packages or party decks for the 2013 season, call (253) 752-7707 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Up-to-date news and notes throughout the season can be found at www.tacomarainiers.com and by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand) or liking the team on Facebook.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.