RENO — Former catcher Jesus Montero had his first stumble as he learns to play first base, and it led to the Reno Aces’ 7-6 victory over the Tacoma Rainiers on Monday afternoon.
Montero drew a walk to start a two-run, tying rally in the top of the ninth — only to make an error on a fairly routine play in the bottom of the inning, allowing the winning run to score.
With Chris Owings at second, Mike Jacobs at first and one out, Matt Davidson hit a slow, low bouncer to first. Montero reached to backhand the ball, only to have it skip past him and trickle into right field as Owings raced home with the winner.
“He’s got to catch that ball and go over and touch first,” Tacoma manager John Stearns said. “He was thinking about throwing to second, which would have been a very tough play. He’s new to the position. He needs to learn that position.”
It was Montero’s 10th game at first base, and his fifth since returning from knee surgery. He has shown good ability to scoop throws in the dirt, but on Monday, he made his first two fielding errors.
The score was 4-4 before former Mariners infielder Josh Wilson connected for a two-run homer against Tacoma reliever Brian Sweeney in the sixth.
Reno held a 6-4 lead when Montero walked to lead off the ninth. Carlos Triunfel singled and Jason Jaramillo walked to load the bases. Robert Andino hit a sacrifice fly to bring in one run, and Triunfel scored the tying run when Reno shortstop Owings threw the ball into the dugout trying to double up Abraham Almonte.
Tacoma had two on and two out for Franklin Gutierrez. The rehabilitating Mariners center fielder lined out to left field, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth in a 6-6 tie.
After winning the first game of the series in extra innings, Tacoma dropped three consecutive one-run games in Reno.
“We haven’t played well this whole series,” Stearns said. “We didn’t get the big hit that we needed to bust through, get the lead, so we can let our bullpen go to work.”
Carter Capps was a bright spot for Tacoma, tossing two scoreless innings from the Tacoma bullpen.
The Rainiers lost the season series to Reno, 10-6. Tacoma has never won a season series against the Aces, who joined the Pacific Coast League in 2009. Reno is 55-25 all-time against Tacoma.
The Rainiers return to Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium to open an eight-game homestand against American Conference teams. First up is the Omaha Storm Chasers at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. Tacoma will start right-hander Taijuan Walker (2-0, 2.42 ERA) against Omaha right-hander Brian Sanches (7-2, 3.44).Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.