Jordan Pries saw his mastery over the Reno Aces come to an end Saturday night.
After three dominant starts against Reno earlier this season, Pries got knocked out early, and the Tacoma Rainiers lost to the Aces, 7-1.
In those three previous starts against Reno, Pries allowed just two runs in 18 innings. This time, Reno scored seven runs on eight hits over the first four innings.
“He left the ball out over the plate, and they didn’t miss it,” Tacoma manager Roy Howell said. “That’s what we did to their pitchers the first two nights.”
Tacoma (48-51) lost for the first time in the series after winning Thursday and Friday. Tacoma still can get its first-ever series win at Reno with a victory in Sunday’s finale.
Jesus Montero doubled in Ji-Man Choi in the top of the first inning, and it appeared as if Tacoma would have another big offensive game. But four Aces pitchers combined to hold the Rainiers to five singles for the rest of the game.
Reno took the lead in the bottom of the first, when two walks set the stage for Andy Marte’s two-run single.
After a run in the second inning, Alfredo Marte homered in the third to make it 4-1.
Pries still had a chance to salvage his night, but he allowed two-out singles to the eighth and ninth batters in Reno’s lineup in the fourth. Leadoff man Garrett Weber connected on a full-count pitch for an opposite-field, three-run homer, and it was 7-1.
Pries (6-6) has allowed five or more runs in three of his past four outings. His earned-run average has increased from 2.65 to 3.96 during that time.
“He’s struggling with his control a little bit in throwing the ball where he wants to,” Howell said. “For a guy who is a control pitcher, he needs to use both sides of the plate. Everything keeps running to the middle. They’re working on it, and hopefully they can get it fixed.”
All-Star infielder Nick Franklin has missed the past two games because of a strained left pinky finger. … Sunday’s game is the final meeting of the year between the division rivals. Reno leads the season series, 8-7.
The Reno series concludes at 6:05 p.m. Sunday. Tacoma starts right-hander Matt Palmer (1-7, 4.61 ERA) against Reno right-hander Bo Schultz (7-6, 5.48).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.