Tim Wheeler led things off with a home run; and for much of the game it looked as if the Albuquerque Isotopes weren’t going to need much more offensively.
John Lannan allowed just five hits in eight innings, Wheeler and Matt McBride each hit home runs and visiting Albuquerque knocked off Tacoma, 6-3, in Pacific Coast League play Saturday at Cheney Stadium.
The sellout crowd of 6,758 — the third highest home attendance this season — had little to cheer about through the opening five innings as Lannan retired the first 15 batters he faced as the Isotopes (28-35) opened up a 6-0 lead.
“I’ve known John for quite a while,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “He throws strikes, gets you to chase, expands the strike zone when he gets ahead. It was a generous strike zone today and you had a guy who knew how to utilize that. It makes for a rough time.”
Posting just a pair of hits through seven innings, the Rainiers got the bulk of their hits in the eighth with Shawn O’ Malley leading off the inning with a single before John Hicks, who had broken up Lannan’s no-hit bid in the sixth with a single, hit into a double play.
Carlos Rivero followed by giving the Rainiers (29-34) their lone extra base hit of the game — a double to left field — before scoring on Chris Taylor’s single to break up the shutout.
Simon Castro took over on the mound for the Isotopes in the ninth and proceeded to give up a two-run single to Hicks before striking out Rivero to close out the contest.
Tacoma starter Sam Gaviglio (6-5) allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings. The right-hander entered the game 3-0 over his last three starts with a 1.21 ERA, but was tagged for a pair of home runs, Wheeler’s game-leading solo shot and a two-run blast from McBride in the fifth.
“We’ve been successful when pitchers go deep for us. Sam’s been as good as any pitcher we’ve had his last three starts. He went 8 1/3 innings, 8 innings and 7 innings his last three starts,” Listach said. “He just gave up too many 0-2 base hits today.”
Andrew Kittredge, who was called up from Double-A Jackson on Saturday and arrived from Tennessee earlier in the afternoon, tossed the final four innings for Tacoma, giving up no runs on three hits with three strikeouts.
“I thought Kittredge was our player of the game,” Listach said. “He had a six-hour flight from Tennessee, got to the ballpark at 3 p.m. and goes out there and throws four scoreless innings. That was impressive.”
Albuquerque got at least one hit from all nine batters in the lineup with McBride, Angelys Nina and Abel Baker each posting two hits.
Hicks and O’Malley had two hits apiece for Tacoma.
Tacoma and Albuquerque clash again with a 1:35 p.m. scheduled start Sunday at Cheney Stadium. Right-hander Forrest Snow (3-4, 2.58 ERA) gets the start for the Rainiers, while the Isotopes go with left-hander Yohan Flande (2-1, 6.24). The game can be heard on 850-AM.