SALT LAKE CITY -- Justin Smoak collected four hits and drove in two runs as the Tacoma Rainiers suffered a 6-5 series-opening loss to the Salt Lake Bees at Smith's Ballpark on Monday.
Smoak ended the night 4-for-5 with four singles on the way to recording his largest hit total since collecting four hits at Cleveland on April 17, 2012. After lining a single in the first inning, the first baseman gave the Rainiers a 1-0 lead with a one-out single in the third. He singled again in the sixth and eighth innings.
Tacoma's 1-0 lead dropped off after allowing two runs to Salt Lake in the fourth, and the deficit grew to as large as 6-2 heading into the ninth. Gabriel Noriega spearheaded a three-run rally with an RBI double that was followed by a run-scoring ground out from Smoak. Outfielder Stefen Romero chipped in a two-out RBI single that brought the Rainiers within a run, but the comeback ended after Jesus Montero struck out in the team's next at-bat.
The Rainiers combined to tally 14 hits in the team's series opener with the Bees. Romero, infielder Chris Taylor and outfielder Abraham Almonte were the players not named Smoak to turn in multi-hit efforts, with Romero and Taylor recording three hits each.
Starter Matt Palmer (1-7) was dealt the loss after allowing three runs - one earned - on five hits in 6.0 innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked three in his tenth turn in the Rainiers rotation.
The Rainiers (42-48) play the second game of a four-game series at Salt Lake (36-55) tomorrow, July 8. Right-hander Jordan Pries (5-5, 2.97) is scheduled to start for Tacoma against Bees left-hander Justin Thomas (4-7, 5.84). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.
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