PORTLAND, Ore. – An aggressive offense and exceptional pitching was the difference in No. 22 Oregon’s 4-2 victory at Portland on Tuesday afternoon at Joe Etzel Field.
The Ducks improved to 35-18 on the season and have now won five in a row heading into this weekend’s Pac-10 series at Washington.
Portland, now on an eight-game losing streak, falls to 31-17 on the year.
Oregon starter Madison Boer gave another inspiring outing, tossing 4 and 1/3 innings of one-run baseball. The sophomore right-hander allowed just one run on five hits while striking two, and left the game with the score even at 1-1.
Portland took a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the fourth after C.J. Cullen led off with a single to left. Boer retired the next two batters, but surrendered a RBI triple to Riley Henricks that ricocheted off the wall and the glove of Jett Hart in center field, allowing Cullen to score.
But the Ducks responded as Oregon tied the game in the fifth when Paul Eshleman led off the top of the inning with his third home run of the season, a solo shot to left center on a 1-0 count.
The Ducks took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth after Portland reliever Chris Johnson plunked Curtis Raulinaitis, and then surrendered a single to KC Serna to lead off the inning. Danny Pulfer’s attempted sacrifice erased Raulinaitis at third, but with runners on first and second and one out, Eddie Rodriguez’s RBI single to right brought Serna home.
With Rodriguez at first and Pulfer at third, Johnson struck out Eshleman for out two, but Ed Wakefield was brought in to register the final out.
The Ducks put the double steal on confusing Wakefield initially. The lefty turned toward second to throw out Rodriguez, but turned back to throw home. It was too late as Pulfer was already safe as UO took a 3-1 lead.
The Pilots made things interesting in the bottom of the sixth as an error led to a run for Portland. With lefty Christian Jones pitching in relief of Boer, a two-out single was surrendered to Henricks, but in an event to make the play at first, Serna over threw first base allowing Henricks to move into scoring position. Rocky Gale then singled Henricks home as Portland closed within 3-2.
But the Pilots would get no closer, as Jones (2-1) was credited with the win allowing one unearned run on three hits while dealing a career high three strikeouts.
Right-hander Scott McGough came on to earn his fourth save of the season, recording the final out of the eighth and retiring the side in order in the top of the ninth.
The Ducks scored their fourth run of the game in the seventh as two errors on J.J. Altobelli’s attempted sacrifice allowed Shawn Peterson to move from first to third. Marcus Piazzisi’s RBI sacrifice bunt allowed Peterson to score unearned as the Duck went ahead 4-2.
Johnson (3-3) took the loss for Portland after surrendering two runs on three hits in one and 2/3 innings on the mound. The starter, left-hander Keeler Brynteson, pitched four innings of one run baseball.
Oregon will travel to Washington for a three-game Pac-10 series beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday. Saturday’s (2 p.m.) and Sunday’s (1 p.m.) games will be aired by the Oregon Sports Network on Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
Notes: Oregon is now 1-4 against Portland since reinstatement…this was the Ducks first trip to Joe Etzel Field…Eddie Rodriguez’s RBI single in the sixth extended his hitting streak to seven games.