ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- All season, there have been other players ready to provide the big hit when the Rochester Red Wings' big hitters had an off-night.
Chris Hoiles had an off-night against the Columbus Clippers in the Governors' Cup playoffs and didn't want to repeat it.
He hit a three-run home run in the first inning last night and set up the fourth run with a single in the second, as the Red Wings defeated the American Association champion Omaha Royals, 4-3, in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Triple-A Classic at Silver Stadium.
The Royals (86-60) had won the season series, 4-1, outscoring the Red Wings (89-56), 25-17.
"By winning tonight, it took a little of the edge off them," Red Wings starter and winner Dan Boone said. "They have done so well against us. I think everyone's excited now that we won the first game."
Hoiles, for one, is just grateful he could help.
"Against Columbus, in those middle three games, I didn't think I contributed very well," said Hoiles, who struck out three times in Game 4. "Luckily, other players came through. Tony [Chance] and Leo [Gomez] picked me up. It was frustrating. All year long you do the job and it comes down to crunch time and I wasn't doing it."
Hoiles went 3-for-5 against the Royals, one hit shy of his total in five games against the Clippers. His first-inning homer gave him more RBI (three) than he had against Columbus.
"Chris is an integral part of our offense," manager Greg Biagini said. "We need him swinging at his best."
Hoiles, who batted .348 with 18 homers during the season, struck out 48 times in 247 at-bats. The three in one game alarmed him.
"When I strike out three times in a game, something's wrong with my swing or something," he said.
Hoiles spent time with Biagini at the batting tee before Game 5 in Columbus and took extra batting practice before yesterday's game.
"I knew the fifth game would be important," he said. "I figured they may need me tonight."
In addition to Hoiles, the Red Wings needed a shutout inning of relief from Rob Woodward in the eighth one-run game of the Triple-A Alliance playoffs.