OMAHA, NEB. - The Rainiers finally got something they were missing throughout the eight-game trip to Iowa and Omaha, but it still didn’t help them get what they needed – a win.
Tacoma starting pitcher Andy Baldwin worked seven strong innings, allowing two runs, but ended up taking the loss as the Omaha Royals defeated the Rainiers, 2-1, on Wednesday afternoon.
It was the eighth straight Pacific Coast League loss for Tacoma, and the team’s 11th consecutive loss on the road.
Fortunately for the Rainiers, second-place Salt Lake also lost Wednesday so they retained their half-game lead in the PCL’s Pacific North Division.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The main culprit has been the starting pitching. In the first seven games of the trip, no Tacoma starter pitched six full innings, with four knocked out in the fifth inning or earlier.
Baldwin (7-7) delivered six scoreless innings, and the Rainiers took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
“Baldwin did a hell of a job,” said Rainiers manager Jose Castro. “He had his splitter going, he had his slider going.”
With Omaha’s Jordan Parraz at first base and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Cody Clark doubled to right-center, leaving runners at second and third.
The Rainiers were forced to bring the infield in, and Jarrod Dyson looped a broken-bat flare beyond second base to drive in the tying run.
David Lough followed with a deep sacrifice fly to left, scoring Clark with the eventual winning run.
It was another game of missed opportunities for the Rainiers’ offense.
Omaha starting pitcher Edgar Osuna had allowed 17 runs in seven innings since being promoted from Double-A, but Tacoma was unable to do much against him. Osuna (1-2) allowed one unearned run in six innings, notching his first Triple-A win.
Tacoma scored in the second inning, when Greg Hal-man doubled home David Winfree, but Mike Carp was thrown out at the plate on the same play.
The Rainiers loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Winfree grounded out to third.
In the seventh, Tacoma put runners at second and third with one out but could not score.
And finally, the Rainiers had two on with two outs in the eighth, but Eliezer Alfonzo struck out to end the inning.
“We’ve been struggling for the past two weeks, and guys are trying too hard,” Castro said. “When we have guys on base, we’re trying to do too much. We need to let things happen, and not force the issue.”
It was the Rainiers’ last game ever at Rosenblatt Stadium, which is being razed after the season. The Royals are moving to a new stadium in Sarpy County for the 2011 season, but the Rainiers will not visit it until 2012. ... Dustin Ackley went 2-for-5 in his final game at Rosenblatt – he is the College World Series all-time career hits leader, with 28.
The Rainiers are off on today before opening an eight-game homestand Friday at 7 against the Round Rock Express.
Tacoma’s starting pitcher is scheduled to be Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-1, 7.94).