Ineffective starting pitching and seeing-eye singles have haunted the Tacoma Rainiers all weekend against the Las Vegas 51s.
After giving up four early runs, the Rainiers tied it in the fifth but surrendered three runs in the bottom half and wound up falling to Las Vegas, 7-4, Saturday night in front of 4,903 at a damp Cashman Field.
Tacoma (11-11) has lost four consectuive games and is 1-8 in its past nine, including losing the first three of a four-game series at Las Vegas (11-10).
For the third consecutive night, the Rainiers had a not-so-quality starting pitching performance as Cody Martin (3-2) lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits, six runs, while walking four. Two hit-and-run plays turned likely outs into singles.
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“We have to work ahead in the count,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “Hit-and-runs happen because we were behind in the count. If it were 1-and-2 counts, they don’t hit-and-run. Those two hits found some holes.”
After the Rainiers trailed 4-0, they scored two in the fourth inning. An inning later, they cut the deficit to 4-3 on Boog Powell’s RBI double to right center scoring Daniel Robertson, and they on tied it on Chris Taylor’s RBI double down the left-field line.
Martin, who struck out six, retired the leadoff batter in the fifth but ran into trouble again and surrendered two more runs.
Steve Johnson replaced Martin and pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowing just two hits — one of those coming from the second batter he faced, Marc Krauss, who belted a two-run towering homer to right.
Robertson was the only Rainier with two hits, including a bunt for a hit with two outs in the ninth. After Tyler Smith’s single to right, Powell — representing the potential tying run — was robbed on a sliding catch by Roger Bernadina near the left-field line to end it.
“In Tacoma, four runs — we would win that game. But in Las Vegas, you need to score six or seven runs to win,” Listach said.
Las Vegas starting pitcher Seth Lugo (2-2) earned the win, lasting five innings, allowing five hits and four runs while striking out six. Paul Sewald pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
The Rainiers are 3-8 in the their past 11 games in Las Vegas.
“We need to shake hands before we leave here in Las Vegas,” said Listach, who will send left-hander James Paxton to the mound Sunday. “(Paxton) is coming off one of his good starts.”
There was rain for much of Saturday at Cashman Field, but it stopped about 90 minutes before the game. A mist started to fall in the eighth inning. Possible showers are predicted for Sunday’s game as well.
In the final game of the series, the Rainiers will take on Las Vegas at noon Sunday. Paxton (2-2, 4.08 ERA) goes against Las Vegas lefty Duane Below (1-0, 5.25). The game can heard on 850-AM.