The Tacoma Rainiers have shown a knack for winning games in situations like they were in late Friday night at Cheney Stadium, trailing Omaha by one run in the bottom of the ninth.
This time they didn’t.
Nate Tenbrink struck out looking with one runner on base to close out the game and the Rainiers lost, 2-1.
Ketel Marte scored Tacoma’s only run in the first on Justin Smoak’s sacrifice fly after reaching base on a lined single.
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“You got a hard team over there,” Marte said through teammate Humberto Quintero. “They play good and we play good and we lost by one run.
“We have a lot of good hitters (on our team). We try to do the best every time we come in and try to win the game.”
The umpire’s call on the final strikeout drew a heated reaction from Tenbrink.
“We lost it way before then,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “We had opportunities to drive runs and we didn’t.”
Tenbrink might have been even more enraged had he known the Rainiers missed a prime opportunity to strengthen their chances of making the postseason.
Division-leading Sacramento lost 4-1 to Memphis on Friday night, while Reno was able to close the gap to only one game back with a 11-6 win over Iowa. Tacoma remains four games back.
Marte is batting .358 with six RBIs and two home runs — including four multihit games — since making his Triple-A debut on Aug. 11. He's hit safely in each of the nine games he’s played.
Omaha knocked around Tacoma starting pitcher Andrew Gillheeney in the first with two runs on three hits.
He yielded back-to-back doubles to his first two batters for one of the runs, and Francisco Pena drove in Omaha’s second with a two-out single to left field. Julio Morban had an opportunity to throw Johnny Giavotella out at home from left field, but bobbled the ball after it landed.
Gillheeney escaped the inning by forcing a flyout.
Quintero, who finished 2-for-3, hit his third triple of the season with one out in the fifth inning. James Jones drew a two-out walk, but Marte grounded out to end the inning.
Gillheeney’s solid night began to unravel following his first walk of the night to Paulo Orlando in the sixth. Two wild pitches allowed Orlando to reach third with two out, which prompted Howell to pull Gillheeney.
The lefty had an effective night nonetheless.
He retired 13 of his next 16 batters following the two-run first, yielding four hits with three strikeouts in 52/3 innings pitched.
Right-handed reliever Blake Beavan came in and forced a flyout to end the inning.
Beavan’s biggest save came in the eighth after he yielded a leadoff single to Brian Bocock. Terrance Gore came in to pinch-run, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout by Whit Merrifield. But then Beavan forced a lineout and flyout to escape the inning with Tacoma still in contention, trailing 2-1.
Logan Bawcom relieved Beavan and pitched a scoreless ninth, but it was to no avail.
SAUNDERS STILL OUT
Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders, on a rehab stint with Tacoma, missed the game due to illness — his third straight absence from the lineup.
The Tacoma Rainiers continue their eight-game home stand against the Omaha Storm Chasers on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. PDT. The Rainiers are scheduled to start right-handed pitcher Jordan Pries (9-6, 3.77 ERA) against right-hander Aaron Brooks (10-3, 4.32 ERA).