‘Cakes scale Rainiers to take series

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METAIRIE – A 10-4 routing of the Tacoma Rainiers gave the New Orleans Baby Cakes their first home series win since early June, and took them to 65-54, putting them 11 games above .500 for the first time since August 25, 2012.

New Orleans scored seven times between the second and fourth innings, ignited by Peter O’Brien’s two-run shot to get the ‘Cakes on the board in the second. Jesus Sanchez singled to open the third, Magneuris Sierra followed that with a triple before Eddy Alvarez doubled. All three came around to score.

The Rainiers took the early lead in the second after Ryan Court doubled down the left field line and scored on Jaycob Brugman’s single in the next at-bat. ‘Cakes starter Joe Gunkel kept Tacoma from scoring additional runs until the sixth inning. Four of the first five hitters of the inning reached, two by walk and one by hit by pitch. A Jordan Pacheco single to right brought home Tacoma’s third run of the inning cut the deficit to 7-4.

But New Orleans got the three-spot back by in the bottom of the eighth. O’Brien walked, Wilkin Castillo singled, Billy Fleming walked and Gabriel Guerrero singled to chase Tacoma reliever Matt Carasiti before he recorded an out.

Castillo collected two hits to extend his hitting streak to a season-best nine games. Sierra, Alvarez and Guerrero also put together two-hit efforts, and the latter collected his first walk in 36 Triple-A games, 45 overall.

Gunkel (6-1) earned his fourth consecutive win, a career high, going six innings and allowing five hits, four runs and striking out five. Jordan Milbrath, R.J. Alvarez and Brett Graves completed the final three innings with no runs and only one hit, striking out five.

The ‘Cakes bullpen dropped its ERA to 2.20 over the past 18 games, as three relievers combined to give up one hit over the final three innings.

New Orleans won its first home series since taking two of three against Fresno from June 4-6, and closed within 6½ games of the division lead with 20 games remaining in the season. The ‘Cakes travel to first-place San Antonio for a pivotal four-game series beginning Thursday.

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