The way manager Pat Listach saw it, his Tacoma Rainiers lost this game well before the final out of the bottom of the ninth inning.
Patrick Kivlehan hit his first home run at Cheney Stadium, and the Rainiers made it interesting with a rally in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough in a 6-3 loss to the El Paso Chihuahuas on Saturday.
“You get 27 outs in this game and I don’t think we really battled and extended the at-bats until the ninth inning,” Listach said. “We were just chasing pitches out of the zone.”
Trailing 6-1, Kivlehan led off the ninth with a single. Chris Taylor drove in a run with the bases loaded on a groundout to second base three batters later.
Ketel Marte brought home another run on an infield single down the third-base line, and Stefen Romero walked for the third time.
That brought up the Rainiers’ hottest hitter — Jesus Montero — with the tying run at first.
He grounded out to pitcher Marcos Mateo, ending the game. It was the first time in 10 games this season Montero — batting .405 coming in — didn’t get a hit.
“We really didn’t swing the bats that well,” Listach said. “So I’m a little disappointed because I thought we would swing the bats better.”
The Rainiers (3-7) didn’t show much life until the fourth inning, when Kivlehan smacked the first pitch he saw into the seats in left field for his third home run of the year.
“I was just trying to stay aggressive so I jumped on the first pitch,” Kivlehan said. “It happened to be right there.”
His strength is evident. He played safety at Rutgers for four years before taking up baseball his senior year. But the No. 4 prospect in the Mariners’ organization as ranked by Baseball America was batting .182 (6 for 33) in eight games entering Saturday.
“That (home run) got off his bat in a hurry. He’s a strong kid,” Listach said. “He’s just got to see some more pitching at this level. He’s a football player. He’s just got to get in baseball mode.”
Kivlehan was playing center field for James Jones, out with a concussion. Kivlehan played center field six times last season.
Mike Montgomery’s first start at Cheney Stadium as a Rainier, after being acquired in an offseason trade from the Tampa Bay Rays for pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, was a tough one. He lasted 22/3 innings and allowed five runs on five hits.
Montgomery’s first two innings were as solid as his first start of the season, when he allowed one run in six innings. But he surrendered four hits in five batters in the third inning as El Paso took a 3-0 lead.
Then Montgomery’s pitch to Austin Hedges bounced in the dirt and got past catcher John Baker, who couldn’t find the ball in time to keep Tommy Medica from rounding third and scoring from second base.
Montgomery then walked Hedges and was pulled for Justin Germano, who allowed a single and a bases-loaded walk to push El Paso’s lead to 5-0.
Taylor was taken off the 15-day disabled list before the game. He has missed three games coming off a broken wrist he suffered during spring training. … Romero started in right field after missing four games with back tightness and a laceration in his finger.
Tacoma right-hander Jordan Pries (0-1, 9.31 ERA) will face El Paso lefty Jason Lane (1-1, 5.25) at 1:35 p.m. Sunday. The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.