El Paso knocks off Rainiers again

Contributing writerJune 30, 2014 

— The El Paso Chihuahuas are the new darling of the Pacific Coast League, selling out home games in their beautiful new ballpark.

But as far as the Tacoma Rainiers are concerned, the Chihuahuas can move back to Tucson. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Tacoma lost its final game in El Paso on Sunday evening, 6-4, in front of a crowd of 8,120. It wrapped up the 16-game season series against El Paso — a series that was very one-sided, with El Paso going 12-4 against Tacoma.

That head-to-head record is a bit of a surprise, considering the two teams have similar records overall. Tacoma is 38-44, and El Paso is 40-44.

“They were crazy games,” said Tacoma hitting coach Cory Snyder. “The good thing is that we kept coming back. We didn’t give up when they got ahead of us.”

Ten of the 16 head-to-head games were settled by two runs or less.

On Sunday, Tacoma had a much-needed long start from James Gillheeney. The left-hander lasted seven innings, giving up three runs and saving the bullpen after Saturday’s marathon doubleheader, which included a five-hour, 13-inning nightcap.

“He did a good job doing what he needed to,” Snyder said. “I was impressed with what he did.”

Gillheeney left with a 4-3 lead after Tacoma rallied in the top of the seventh.

Xavier Avery hit a game-tying solo home run down the right field line off El Paso reliever Tim Sexton. It was Avery’s sixth homer of the season, and his fourth in the last two days.

Jesus Sucre singled, and he scored on Abraham Almonte’s second triple of the game to make it 4-3. Almonte switch-hit triples, hitting one from each side of the plate.

The Chihuahuas rallied with two outs in the eighth against Rainiers reliever Lucas Luetge. Brooks Conrad scored the tying run on a wild pitch, Chris Nelson lined a single to left, and Cody Decker tripled to center to make it 5-4. Decker scored an insurance run on an RBI double by Jonathan Galvez.

Short Hops

Pitcher Forrest Snow re-joined the Rainiers after a brief stint with Double-A Jackson, and outfielder Stefen Romero is expected to join the club Monday. ... Bad — yet familiar — news for former Rainiers and Mariners catcher Adam Moore: he’s out for the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee suffered in the first inning of Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. Moore was having an all-star caliber season for El Paso, batting .298 with eight home runs.

On Tap

The Rainiers return home and host the Reno Aces in a four-game series starting with Monday’s 6:05 game. Tacoma starts Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 4.55) against Reno’s Zeke Spruill (3-4, 6.75).

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.

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