FRESNO, Calif. — Consistency on offense is a growing concern for the Tacoma Rainiers, who were limited to four hits in a 5-1 loss to Fresno on Saturday night.
The four-hit game came one day after an 11-run, 17-hit explosion — and two days after a four-run rally ended a 20-inning scoreless streak.
Fresno starter Jose De Paula held Tacoma to three hits over five innings, with the only run scoring when Humberto Quintero doubled to send Leury Bonilla to third base. Bonilla was able to score when Fresno botched the relay back into the infield.
One Tacoma hitter remained hot. Jesus Montero singled in each of his first two at-bats, and finished the game 2-for-4.
Montero went 5-for-5 on Friday, and he had hits in nine consecutive at-bats going back to Tuesday before striking out against reliever Jason Berken in the sixth inning.
Nine consecutive hits fell three shy of the PCL record. Two players have had hits in 12 consecutive at-bats, with Ted Beard of the Hollywood Stars being the most recent player to do it — in 1953.
Montero was robbed of an RBI single in his final at-bat in the ninth inning, when shortstop Nick Noonan made a diving play on his grounder up the middle.
By going 9-for-11 over three games, Montero raised his batting average from .266 to .291.
Fresno jumped out to an early lead against Tacoma starter James Gillheeney. Former Rainiers outfielder Darren Ford lined a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the first inning, and Andrew Susac followed with a solo shot two batters later to make it 3-0.
Gillheeney (3-7) has allowed at least one home run in six consecutive starts, and he’s given up 12 this season in 66 innings pitched.
Gillheeney appeared to settle down, tossing scoreless frames in the second and third innings. But a two-out, two-run triple by Fresno No. 9 hitter Brett Krill in the fourth inning spoiled Gillheeney’s attempt to salvage a quality start.
Forrest Snow relieved Gillheeney and pitched two scoreless innings, and Lucas Luetge kept Fresno off the scoreboard in the eighth. That continued a strong run for the Rainiers bullpen, which has allowed just one earned run over the past 191/3 innings.
The three-game series in Fresno concludes with an evening game at 6:05 p.m. Sunday. Tacoma starts Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 4.54) against Fresno left-hander Mike Kickham (6-5, 3.46). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.