MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tacoma Rainiers lost in the bottom of the ninth inning at Memphis on Friday night, but the game felt lost well before that.
Tacoma took advantage of every early scoring opportunity to build a 5-0 lead after four innings, only to see Memphis tie the game with a five-run fifth inning and win it in the ninth, 6-5.
The Rainiers loaded the bases with nobody out in the second inning, and scored all three runners with a pair of ground outs and a two-out single by Xavier Avery.
Ty Kelly launched his ninth home run of the year in the fourth inning, a two-run shot to right field off Memphis starter Scott McGregor.
Rainiers starting pitcher Andrew Carraway was in complete control through the first four innings, allowing just one hit.
He had retired six straight batters and nine of 10 before walking Pete Kozma to lead off the fifth inning. That walk opened the floodgates for Memphis.
“You’ve got a five-run lead and you walk the leadoff hitter,” said Tacoma manager Roy Howell. “The baseball gods don’t like that.”
Tommy Phan followed the walk with a double, and Carraway struck out Audry Perez for the first out. But the next four batters all had hits, culminating with Mike Adams’ line-drive two-run double that tied the score at 5.
“He got the ball out over the plate, and up a little bit, and they just hit him all over the ballpark,” said Howell.
Logan Kensing relieved Carraway and delivered three scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.27. With the game still tied going to the bottom of the ninth, the Rainiers brought in Logan Bawcom.
Bawcom (2-4) allowed an infield single to Pham to start the inning, and Perez sacrificed him to second base. Xavier Scruggs lined a single to left, sending Pham to third, before Greg Garcia hit a sacrifice fly to score the winning run.
Garcia’s sacrifice fly came after a disputed check-swing that, if disallowed, would have resulted in strike three. Howell was ejected by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild.
Former Seattle Mariners closer David Aardsma (2-0) earned the win by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth inning.
The Rainiers made another roster move prior to Wednesday’s game, activating reliever Stephen Pryor from the disabled list. Pryor had been out since May 26 with a right-shoulder impingement. Pryor takes the spot of reliever Carson Smith, who was placed on the disabled list with a back problem.
The Memphis series concludes at 10:05 a.m. (PDT). Tacoma starts right-hander Jordan Pries (3-5, 2.93 ERA) against Memphis lefty John Gast (0-0, 1.80).Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.