The Tacoma Rainiers managed to put together some offense against the Houston Astros’ top pitching prospect, but shortly after he left the game the bats went silent while Fresno’s came to life.
Tacoma built a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning, only to lose in the tenth, 4-3. Jon Singleton’s groundout to first base brought home the winning run.
The loss gave Tacoma a split of the entire eight-game road trip through Albuquerque and Fresno. The team starts an eight-game homestand Saturday.
Fresno starter Joe Musgrove was making his Triple-A debut after posting a 0.34 ERA in six appearances for Double-A Corpus Christi.
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The 2011 supplemental first-round draft pick kept the Rainiers in check his first time through the lineup, but Tacoma’s hitters started to have better at-bats the second time through.
A bases-loaded walk by Efren Navarro gave Tacoma a 1-0 lead in the third inning, and Navarro ripped an RBI double to make it 2-0 in the fifth.
Musgrove was pulled after five innings, allowing two runs — one earned —on five hits.
The Rainiers made it 3-0 when Rob Brantly greeted reliever Cesar Valdez with a homer to right, and it appeared that Tacoma was going to cruise to victory behind starting pitcher Donn Roach. But the Rainiers couldn’t get another baserunner after the sixth inning, and Fresno was able to rally.
Roach carried a three-hit shutout into the sixth inning, and he retired the first two batters in that frame. But Matt Duffy hit a long double to right field, and Singleton homered to left-center to make it 3-2.
Tacoma went to the bullpen to start the bottom of the seventh, with Jonathan Aro entering the game. A leadoff walk to Roberto Pena led to the tying run scoring on a two-out triple by Tony Kemp.
Fresno scored the winning run in the tenth against left-hander Paul Fry, who had entered the game with one out in the eighth.
Nolan Fontana started the tenth with a double to left-center, moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kemp, who reached first base on a throwing error by Navarro.
Fry got Colin Moran to pop up for the first out, and Duffy was intentionally walked to load the bases to set up force outs and a possible double play.
Singleton’s grounder down the line was fielded by a diving Navarro, but he had no chance to throw home and Fontana scored the winning run.
Tacoma’s bullpen, which was a great strength over the first 30 games of the season, started to show some cracks during the Fresno series. The Rainiers bullpen allowed multiple runs in each of the four games at Fresno, getting charged with two blown saves and two losses.
The Rainiers host Omaha at Cheney Stadium at 5:05 p.m. Saturday. Tacoma starts right-hander Joe Wieland (2-3, 10.58) against Omaha lefty Jonathan Dziedzic (1-3, 4.45).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers