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Walker busts out, lifts Salt Lake

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Buzz 6, Trappers 5

Salt Lake Buzz manager Phil Roof knew it would only be a matter of time before Pacific Coast League All-Star Todd Walker would hit another home run — his first and only round-tripper with the Buzz this season came in early May.

"He had an absolutely great BP (batting practice) today. He hit the ball hard," Roof said of Walker, who was sent down from the parent-club Minnesota Twins May 6, "and it went right to the game."

The All-Star second baseman made all-star type plays at the plate Thursday night to lift the Buzz to a 6-5, 12-inning victory over the Edmonton Trappers at Franklin Covey Field.

First he belted a two-run homer in the third inning to give the Buzz a 5-0 lead, and nine innings later, he singled home John Barnes as the Buzz picked up the series victory over the Trappers.

Despite the lack of home run power of late, Walker earned his spot in next week's Triple-A All-Star contest by hitting .332 with 14 doubles and 37 RBIs, which makes up for his 11 errors.

Still, Roof says he hasn't seen Walker's best yet.

"He hit the ball hard four times tonight," Roof said after Walker went 3-for-6 with three RBIs. "There is no doubt in my mind that he'll come around."

Before being sent down, Walker was hitting .234 with two homers and eight RBIs for the Twins.

With Thursday's win the Buzz hold a 10 1/2-game lead over third-place Edmonton in the North Division and a nine-game lead over second-place Tacoma, which lost to Sacramento 4-3 Thursday night.

The Buzz open a three-game series in Sacramento tonight at 8:05 p.m. before heading into the three-day all-star break.

Salt Lake, which had lost 5-of-7 games to the Trappers before Thursday's win, got a run in the first inning on an RBI-fielder's choice by Brian Buchanan. They added two more in the second, thanks to a wild pitch by Edmonton starter Shawn Boskie and an RBI single by Barnes.

Walker added his two-run job in the third to give the Buzz the solid 5-0 lead before the Trappers tagged Salt Lake starter J.C. Romero for four runs in the fourth inning to make things interesting.

Boskie settled in and held the Buzz to just three more hits before being pulled in the eighth.

Salt Lake reliever Jack Cressend surrendered the game-tying run to Keith Johnson in the eighth before Walker's heroics in the 12th earned reliever Gus Gandarillas his eighth win.

BEE LINES: The PCL's leading hitter, Salt Lake's Mario Valdez, sat out Thursday's game with an ailing elbow that he injured two weeks ago and reaggravated Wednesday night. He was also named PCL Player of the Week for his .520 average with four doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs last week . . . Buzz leftfielder Chad Allen was called up to the Twins on Thursday after Butch Huskey was released.


E-MAIL: jhinton@desnews.com