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51s’ home run continues

If patrons of $1 beer night at Cashman Field had to drink a cold one for every run the home team scored, they were in for a long night on Thursday.

It certainly was a rough one for the Portland Beavers, who were lit up by suddenly sizzling Las Vegas, 14-6.

The 51s scored six runs in the second inning to take a 7-1 lead en route to their season-high ninth straight win and 10th victory in a row at home.

Las Vegas (47-51), which embarks on a four-game road trip to Tacoma, Wash., today, can equal its franchise record for consecutive home wins on Tuesday, when it returns to play Albuquerque.

The 51s also finished their first 8-0 homestand in 11 years on Thursday, scoring 69 runs — an average of more than eight per game — while sweeping Salt Lake and Portland.

"Everybody’s starting to come together," said 51s slugger Andy LaRoche, who launched a three-run homer to left field in the fourth inning to give Las Vegas a 10-4 lead. "We were bound to get hot, because we’ve been cold for a while.

"We’re getting some key hits and doing the little things. We’re getting them on, getting them over and getting them in."

The last time Las Vegas recorded an 8-0 homestand was Aug. 17-25, 1996 — against Albuquerque on Aug. 17-20 and Tacoma on Aug. 22-25. Las Vegas won a record 11 straight home games from Aug. 6-8 and Aug. 17-25, 1996.

The first six spots in the 51s’ batting order finished a combined 16-for-28 with three doubles, a triple, two homers and 13 RBIs on Thursday.

Leadoff batter Wilson Valdez extended his hitting streak to 14 games with the first of six straight two-out hits in the second inning, Chin-Lung Hu and Delwyn Young teamed to go 6-for-9 with seven runs scored, and Marshall McDougall finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

"We’ve got some guys going, and it’s contagious right now," Las Vegas manager Lorenzo Bundy said. "Everybody’s swinging the bat extremely well."

While the 51s rank third in the Pacific Coast League in hitting, with a .296 batting average, Bundy said the key to the team’s hot streak has been its pitching, which still ranks last in the league with a 5.39 ERA.

Miguel Pinango (6-4) scattered five hits in six innings against Portland (41-58), allowing three earned runs with two walks and six strikeouts. Chris Fussell finished up, giving up two runs on four hits over the final three innings.

"Offensively, we’ve been good, but baseball is pitching. It’s 90 percent pitching for the most part," Bundy said. "Our starters are giving us five or six innings, and they’ve stayed away from the big inning.

"And guys are coming out of the bullpen and getting outs. It’s fun now."

51s first baseman John Lindsey went 2-for-4 with two RBIs against the Beavers and is batting .356 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs in 31 games with Las Vegas.

He said the All-Star break was just what the team needed to recharge.

"We won the last game before the break, and everybody got to go home, get refreshed and get a new outlook on things," he said. "When things are going bad, everybody’s going bad, and when it’s hot, it’s hot.

"Hopefully we can keep each other hot."

NOTES — Portland’s Roger Deago started in place of scheduled starting pitcher Clay Hensley, who has right shoulder soreness. Hensley had an 11-12 record in 37 games for the San Diego Padres two seasons ago … Jonathan Meloan was promoted to Las Vegas from Double-A Jacksonville, where he went 5-2 with 18 saves and a 2.06 ERA. The 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound Meloan, 23, has 65 strikeouts and 18 walks in 43 2/3 innings as the Suns’ closer. … The 51s placed infielder Luis Maza on the disabled list.

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