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The Sacramento River Cats (10-7) defeated the Tucson Padres (6-11) 4-2 on Saturday night at home, backed by solo home runs by second baseman Jemile Weeks and first baseman Anthony Recker.
Despite losing star outfielder Chris Carter to the disabled list with a sprained thumb and outfielder Matt Carson with a bulky back, the River Cats hitters found just enough power necessary to support a strong pitching effort by starting pitcher Graham Godfrey (2-0).
Weeks wasted little time putting Sacramento on the scoreboard as he launched a leadoff solo home run into the visiting team’s bullpen, on Tucson starting pitcher Will Inman’s (0-2) second pitch of the game.
Shortstop Eric Sogard and left fielder Steve Tolleson both reached base in the following two plate appearances before pulling off a double steal and later scoring on a two-run single by designated hitter Adrian Cardenas to put the Cats up 3-0 after the first inning.
Inman narrowly escaped further disaster in the first inning, striking out third baseman Josh Horton with based loaded. The righty faced the entirety of the Sacramento lineup in the top of the first, which required 51 pitches and lasted 36 minutes.
Godfrey gave Sacramento a strong outing through five and two-thirds innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, and adding seven strikeouts on 96 pitches.
With a one-run lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning, Recker provided a crucial insurance run with a one out solo home run to left field. Recker finished the night with two hits, one RBI, one run and a walk in four plate appearances.
The Sacramento bullpen was outstanding as Vinnie Chulk, Michael Wuertz, Fernando Cabrera and Trystan Magnuson allowed one hit, two walks, and struck out four in three and one-third innings of combined work.
In the top of the eighth, Weeks bailed out Cabrera as the fleet-footed infielder ran down Tucson third baseman Jesus Gomez, attempting to score from first on a two out single by former River Cat Aaron Cunningham.
Magnuson retired the side in the top of the ninth, picking up his first save of the young season and ending the game with Tucson shortstop Patrick McKenna striking out on an attempted check swing.
* Center fielder Jai Miller was replaced due to injury in the bottom of the third inning by backup infielder Adam Heether, after Miller failed to reign in a Guillermo Quiroz double in the top half of the inning. Miller is believed to be day-to-day.
* The solo home runs by Weeks and Recker were their first home runs of the season.
* The River Cats honored Jackie Robinson and former negro league star Elmer Carter of the Kansas City Monarchs for their contributions to breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
Photographs by Steven Chea