Down by six runs after three innings, the Tacoma Rainiers knew they were still in the game.
After all, they scored 25 runs the day before.
Tacoma put the tying or go-ahead run in the batter’s box in the sixth, seventh, and ninth innings, only to lose to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, 10-8.
The loss ended Tacoma’s three-game winning streak and trimmed the Rainiers’ Northern Division lead to a half-game over the Sky Sox. The two teams meet in the series final Friday night.
Tacoma fell behind early as spot-starter Jonathan Arias struggled with his command in the first two innings, leading to six runs.
“We came out early and our pitchers did not throw strikes,” Tacoma manager John Stearns said. “We had to start Arias; he’s really a reliever and he’s not used to that role.”
Arias was filling in for scheduled starter James Paxton, who was scratched with a minor knee injury.
Former University of Washington star Forrest Snow followed Arias and allowed three runs in the third inning to make it 9-3 but settled down and worked two additional scoreless innings.
Tacoma scored three runs in the fourth inning, when Scott Savastano homered, Corey Patterson tripled in a run and scored on Franklin Gutierrez’s sacrifice fly.
Gutierrez added a RBI double in the sixth to make it 9-7, and the Rainiers had runners at second and third with one out. Sky Sox reliever Nick Schmidt struck out Carlos Peguero and Mike Zunino to end the threat.
In the ninth the Rainiers scored a run to make it 10-8, and they loaded the bases with two outs against closer Coty Woods.
Dustin Ackley was at the plate, and he already had two hits in the game. Ackley turned on a pitch and lifted it to deep right field, but even the thin air of Colorado Springs couldn’t help it carry out. Right fielder Corey Dickerson made the catch, ending the game.
“We did a nice job battling to try to get back in it,” Stearns said. “Usually when you score eight runs that’s enough to win a ballgame, but in this ballpark sometimes it’s not.”
Dickerson was the star for the Sky Sox. The Triple-A rookie hit a leadoff homer in the first inning and added two triples to drive in four runs. He leads the Pacific Coast League with 10 triples.
Colorado Springs’ Mike Solbach protected a three-run lead by pitching a perfect eighth inning.
One day after going 6-for-6, Rainiers outfielder Abraham Almonte was not in the starting lineup. The speedster has been dealing with some hamstring tightness and is being treated carefully. ... Gutierrez played the entire game in center field for the first time on his rehabilitation assignment.
The trip finishes with a 6:05 p.m. (PDT) game Friday. Tacoma starts Blake Beavan (3-2, 4.35 ERA) against Sky Sox ace Drew Pomeranz (6-1, 4.02). The broadcast airs on 850-AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.