Walker can't play stopper, as Rainiers lose again

Contributing writerJuly 19, 2013 

Even another solid outing from Taijuan Walker couldn’t stop the first-place Rainiers losing streak, as Tacoma quietly lost to Fresno on Friday night, 3-2.

Making his first start since July 7 due to an appearance in the Futures Game and the All-Star break, Walker did not allow a hit until Juan Perez singled with one out in the fifth inning.

However, two batter later Ehire Adrianza doubled home Perez – erasing the 1-0 lead Tacoma earned on Abraham Almonte’s leadoff homer.

Walker allowed just the one run in five innings. He walked two and struck out five, throwing 79 pitches.

“Walker again was outstanding – he threw strikes with four pitches,” said Tacoma manager John Stearns. “We took him out early because he hadn’t thrown in 12 days, except for one inning at the Futures Game. We erred on the cautionary side.”

Fresno starter Yusmeiro Petit outdueled walker, lasting seven innings and permitting just the leadoff homer. Petit (5-4) earned the win when Fresno rallied in the middle innings against Tacoma reliever Logan Bawcom.

Normally the Rainiers closer, Bawcom was summoned in relief of Walker to begin the sixth inning. He got two quick outs before Brett Pill ripped a long home run to left field, making it 2-1.

Fresno scored again in the seventh, when Bawcom walked Adrianza with two outs. Adrianza stole second and scored on Carter Jurica’s single to right.

In his first middle relief outing since April, Bawcom (0-3) took the loss.

“We feel like his role is middle relief in the big leagues, so we need him to get some longer outings,” said Stearns. “We know he’s a good closer for us.”

Stephen Pryor pitched the eighth inning, making his first injury rehabilitation appearance for Tacoma since tearing his lat in mid-April. Pryor walked the leadoff man before getting three straight fly outs.

Tacoma’s only other run came when Carlos Peguero launched a long homer to left-center in the ninth inning off Fresno closer Heath Hembree.

Other than the two solo home runs, Tacoma was held to five singles.

“We got good pitching, but as has been the problem for most of the games on this streak we’re not hitting enough,” said Stearns. “We have to regroup and start competing again.”

SHORT HOPS

Franklin Gutierrez began his third rehabilitation assignment of the season, going 1-for-4. … When Almonte, Jesus Montero, and Brandon Bantz each hit triples in the series-opener Thursday, it marked the first time Tacoma had hit three triples in one game since Sept. 2, 2005 at Sacramento. … Former New York Yankees great Bobby Richardson was in attendance.

ON TAP

The third game of the series in Fresno is Saturday night at 7:05. Tacoma starts Blake Beavan (3-3, 5.18) against Fresno’s Mike Kickham (3-5, 4.81). The broadcast airs on 850-AM.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers

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