Tacoma’s Sam Gaviglio couldn’t have asked for better outings in his Triple-A starts — a combined one earned run allowed in two starts, and a no-hitter carried into the sixth inning of his previous start against the same Albuquerque club he faced Tuesday night in his Cheney Stadium debut.
But trailing by four runs in the first inning can change the complexion of a baseball game, much as it did Tuesday for Gaviglio. He allowed two home runs in the first three innings of the shortest outing in his three starts — four innings — in the Rainiers’ 8-6 loss to the Isotopes to start a four-game series.
Acquired in an offseason trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Ashland, Oregon, native and former Oregon State standout sported a 0.86 earned-run average over his previous two starts and hadn’t allowed a home run until giving up those two, including a first-inning grand slam by Tim Wheeler.
Wheeler and Christian Adames had multi-homer games for Albuquerque (8-5), each soloing in the sixth and seventh innings as part of a combined six home runs between the clubs.
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Gaviglio, who fanned a season-high seven batters, attributed his struggles to four walks, also a season-high. He allowed two before Wheeler’s grand slam in the top of the first inning.
“Too many walks. That’s where it started,” Gaviglio said. “I couldn’t get ahead of hitters and stay ahead, and couldn’t make pitches when I needed to.”
Facing what manager Pat Listach described as a “pretty good” Albuquerque lineup for the second time in six days, Gaviglio threw 83 pitches in four innings Tuesday to match what the right-hander did while holding the Isotopes to two hits in six innings on Thursday.
Adames’ solo home run in the seventh made it a 7-3 game, but Tacoma’s offense wasn’t done. The Rainiers, who outhit Albuquerque 11-8, got home runs from Stefen Romero and Jabari Blash. RBI hits by Ketel Marte and Carlos Rivera made it an 8-6 game in the ninth.
The Rainiers and Isotopes continue their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. Tacoma sends left-hander Mike Kickham (0-1, 6.75 ERA) against Albuquerque right-hander Chad Bettis (1-1, 5.23 ERA). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.