Tacoma Rainiers

Early, late home runs not enough for Tacoma Rainiers in loss at Iowa

The Tacoma Rainiers had a good start and a good finish to Sunday’s game, but everything in the middle went poorly for them.

Jesus Montero hit a two-run home run in the first inning, and Patrick Kivlehan connected for a two-run homer in the ninth. But in between the homers, the Iowa Cubs ripped 12 hits — including three homers of their own — and won the game, 7-4.

It was the third consecutive loss for Tacoma (18-26), which fell eight games under .500 for the first time this season.

“I’m glad that one is behind us — it was an ugly game,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said.

The first inning had a lot of action.

Rehabilitating Seattle Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson opened the game with a line drive single to left field, bringing James Jones to the plate against Iowa ace Donn Roach, who entered the game with a 5-0 record and a 1.97 ERA.

Jones smashed a ground ball up the middle, and it struck Roach on his left shin. Roach immediately left the game after Jones was thrown out, limping off the field.

Two batters later, Montero ripped a pitch from Blake Cooper deep over the fence in left-center for his sixth home run of the season.

It turned out that homers weren’t difficult to hit Sunday. Iowa hit two in the bottom of the first inning, with Arismendy Alcantara greeting Tacoma starter Sam Gaviglio with a leadoff blast and Javier Baez connecting two batters later.

Iowa added an unearned run, facilitated by a Carlos Rivero error at third base, and led 3-2 at the end of the first inning.

“They took the momentum right back from us in the bottom of the first,” Listach said. “That’s got to be a shut-down inning.”

Gaviglio (3-4) allowed another home run to Baez leading off the fifth inning. That started a three-run inning that gave Iowa a 7-2 lead. Gaviglio allowed seven runs on 10 hits over five innings, with six of the hits going for extra bases.

Kivlehan ended his day on a positive note, driving a Gonzalez Germen pitch for a two-run homer in the ninth. He’s homered in back-to-back games.

Short Hops

Rainiers outfielder Stefen Romero has missed the past two games with a strained hip flexor. His status is day-to-day. … Tacoma shortstop Ketel Marte went 0 for 4, ending his eight-game hitting streak.

On Tap

The road trip continues with a four-game series in Omaha, with Monday’s game starting at 10:05 a.m. (PDT).

Tacoma is scheduled to start former University of Washington right-hander Forrest Snow (1-4, 2.88 ERA) against Omaha righty Clayton Mortensen (2-4, 6.67), who played at Gonzaga University.