The Sacramento River Cats used a huge fifth inning and another tremendous outing from their starting pitcher as they beat the Oklahoma City RedHawks 6-3 in front of 12,919 fans at Raley Field Saturday night.
For the second straight night, the River Cats (24-18) received a brilliant performance from their starting pitcher. Bruce Billings went seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a walk. He tied a season high with eight strikeouts.
Billings (4-2) retired 11 of the first 12 hitters he faced as well as 18 of the first 20. He did not allow a runner to reach scoring position until his final inning.
The River Cats had an early opportunity to score when they loaded the bases with one out in the second inning. RedHawks pitcher Jarred Cosart was able to keep the game scoreless by striking out Jeremy Barfield and Andy Parrino to end the inning.
Neither team threatened to score until Sacramento broke the game open with a six-run rally in the fifth inning. Grant Green drew a bases loaded walk to bring home the first run, and Michael Choice followed with a sac fly. The River Cats put up four more runs with two outs, including RBI singles by Stephen Vogt and Scott Moore. Two wild pitches by RedHawks relief pitcher Josh Zeid scored a pair of runs as well.
Cosart (4-1) was charged with three of those runs and picked up his first loss of the season. He threw 96 pitches over 4.1 innings, allowing four hits with three walks and four strikeouts. It was just the second time in nine outings Cosart allowed more than one run.
The RedHawks broke through in the eighth inning with one big swing by Brett Wallace. The third baseman connected on a three-run homer to pull Oklahoma City within three runs. Wallace now has six home runs in 25 games with the RedHawks.
Fernando Martinez and Austin Wates both singled with one out in the ninth inning to bring the tying run to the plate. Sacramento reliever Evan Scribner got Carlos Perez to pop out and then struck out Jonathan Villar to end the game and earn his first save. Villar finished the game 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.
The RedHawks outhit the River Cats, 8-6, with Wallace and Martinez leading the RedHawks with two hits apiece.
The RedHawks and River Cats finish their series Sunday afternoon at 3:05 p.m.