The Tacoma Rainiers could not find a way to win consecutive extra-inning games at Cheney Stadium.
They scored two runs in the seventh inning to tie the score against the Albuquerque Isotopes, but an RBI double by third baseman Tim Smalling in the top of the 11th ultimately lifted Albuquerque to a 3-2 victory before a crowd of 5,342 on Friday night.
On Thursday, the Rainiers escaped Cheney with a 4-3 victory thanks to Jesus Montero’s walk-off, two-run homer in the 10th inning.
Tacoma (29-33) was not so fortunate 24 hours later. Isotopes designated hitter Angelys Nina began the 11th inning with an infield single, moved to second on Dustin Garneau’s sacrifice bunt, then scored easily when Smalling ripped an easy double just fair down the left-field line.
Rainiers reliever Mayckol Guaipe pitched the 11th and took the loss.
“Guaipe made a pretty good pitch,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “I think the guy got out in front a little bit, and the ball landed on the line.”
Montero couldn’t bail the Rainiers out in the bottom half. Facing right-hander Justin Miller, the same pitcher who allowed Montero’s walk-off Thursday, the Tacoma first baseman flew out to center field for the second out of the inning. After Franklin Gutierrez singled up the middle, Stefen Romero grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
Listach said the Seattle Mariners’ 10-0 loss in Houston — and the toll such a blowout took on their bullpen — consequently shortened the number of relievers available for the Rainiers on Friday night. Which made Kevin Gregg’s scoreless effort in the ninth and 10th innings all the more important.
Left-hander Tyler Olson also pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
“It was a good game, all the way around,” Listach said. “We were holding some guys back just in case they had to go pitch tomorrow. But it was a good game. It was a well-played game.”
Second baseman Shawn O’Malley notched Tacoma’s first hit with runners in scoring position – they’d failed in six previous at-bats – by driving in Stefen Romero and Leon Landry with a two-out single in the seventh inning.
A good throw might have beaten Landry to the plate. But Albuquerque right fielder Roger Bernadina threw wild, the ball skipped away from the catcher, and the Rainiers tied the score against Albuquerque starter Eddie Butler.
The Isotopes took a 2-0 lead, thanks mostly to the bat of first baseman Matt McBride, who doubled and scored in the second, then launched a solo home run over the left-field fence to lead off the fourth against Rainiers starter Justin Germano.
Germano pitched six innings, allowed five hits and two runs, and struck out four.
“Six innings again,” Listach said of Germano, who pitched six innings and allowed only one run in his previous start. “Two runs. Another quality start. That’s all he does. Just keeps you in the game.”
Tacoma’s four-game series against the Isotopes continues with a 5:05 p.m. game Saturday at Cheney Stadium. Right-hander Sam Gaviglio (6-4, 4.19 ERA) s scheduled to pitch for the Rainiers against left-hander John Lannan (2-1, 3.72).