Hector Noesi threw his second straight quality start for the Tacoma Rainiers on Wednesday at Cheney Stadium – a welcome sight for a pitcher with a 10.31 earned-run average in four July starts.
But it wasn’t enough. Noesi is still searching for his first win in more than three months.
He threw seven sharp innings Wednesday, but the Rainiers never recovered from a three-run home run Noesi allowed with two outs in the third inning of a 5-3 Pacific Coast League loss to the New Orleans Zephyrs – Noesi’s 15th defeat of the season.
He fell to 0-4 with the Rainiers after going 2-11 with the Seattle Mariners. His 11 losses are still tied for third most in the majors behind Erik Bedard and Jeremy Guthrie – despite not playing in the big leagues in more than a month. Noesi last won on May 6, a 5-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins.
“I thought he threw well today,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said of Noesi. “He made a couple of mistakes – obviously the three-run homer that started with a two-out walk – but I think we are moving in the right direction with him.”
Noesi was in good position early to earn that elusive first PCL win thanks to Carlos Peguero.
Peguero had been without a home run in the six games since being optioned to Tacoma but ended that by launching a two-run shot over the right-field fence in the first inning. It was his first since a run of homers in five games persuaded the Mariners to call him up last month.
It was his 19th homer with the Rainiers this season, his 20th overall.
Noesi also started strong, but things got away from him in the third. He walked Kevin Mattison with two outs, then former Rainier Jeff Dominguez gave the Zephyrs their first hit of the game. It set up a three-run homer from Chris Coghlan to erase the Rainiers’ lead.
Noesi then walked the next batter and looked as if he would revert to the struggles that have earned him double-digit losses.
Instead he went on to pitch four more scoreless innings and kept Tacoma in the game, still down 3-2.
“I feel better out there,” Noesi said. “I just have to try to go long into the game, then prepare for the next one.”
Nick Franklin hit a solo-homer to lead off the bottom of the eighth, but it came after New Orleans extended its lead with a two-run blast from Luke Montz with two outs in the top of the inning.
Montz’s blast came off reliever Charlie Furbush, who entered in the eighth. Furbush was making his third rehab appearance and has allowed at least one earned run in each.
HULTZEN MIGHT START
Danny Hultzen hasn’t pitched since the Mariners decided to rest the 22-year-old pitcher after his start on July 28. That should change.
After an off day today, the Rainiers hit the road for the next eight days, and Brown said it is very likely Hultzen will start sometime during the trip.
“We are looking at with the off day that we kind of have some room to play with to give Danny a little more of a breather if we need to,” Brown said. “So I expect he will pitch at some point on the road trip.”
The Rainiers get back at it at 5:05 p.m. (PDT) Friday, with Erasmo Ramirez (4-2, 3.60 ERA) starting at the Memphis Redbirds against Tyler Lyons (1-7, 4.83). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.