“Macho Man” by Village People plays throughout Cheney Stadium whenever Jean Machi walks out to the mound.
Lately, Machi has been anything but macho.
Leading by two runs after the eighth inning, it looked as though the Rainiers would get back above .500 on Sunday. Instead, Machi allowed three runs in the final frame and the Fresno Grizzlies left Cheney Stadium with 5-4 win and a series sweep.
It was the fifth loss in six games for the Rainiers, who were outscored 25-7 in the four games against Fresno
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Machi, who hadn’t pitched since the Triple-A All-Star Game, boasted an impressive ERA of 0.40 after a June 17 outing, but has since seen it rise to 3.31.
Rainiers (46-47) manager Pat Listach attributed Machi’s struggles to a shortage of innings lately.
“He’s healthy,” Listach said. “I thought he was a while back before the all-star break, and he promised me he was healthy. I don’t see anything wrong with him.”
After getting one out in the ninth, Machi allowed a pair of singles. On the second one, second baseman Gordon Beckham dove and missed the ball, which brought Tyler White to the plate. White proceeded to hit his 16th home run of the season.
The Rainiers scored two runs in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead. Third baseman Danny Muno scored on a sacrifice fly, and Tyler Smith scored on a wild pitch.
Tacoma’s starter, Chase De Jong, provided a reason for encouragement after a five-start stretch in which he gave up 21 runs. De Jong was efficient, allowing only one hit — a two-run home run to Tony Kemp in the third — in five innings. He walked four, but his outing was still an improvement.
“Only one hit is really good,” Listach said. “But 91 pitches in five innings, that’s not what we’re looking for.”
D.J. Peterson smacked a leadoff home run to left field in the second inning for the game’s first run.
Fresno responded with a two runs in the third before the Rainiers tied the game at 2 in the fifth.
Mark Lowe, who replaced Ryan Kelly at the start of the seventh, gave up a pair of doubles and a walk to load the bases for Fresno. Lowe escaped the jam when Teoscar Hernandez popped up to Smith.
“We’ve had some bad luck lately,” Muno said. “We’re definitely way better than our record indicates.”
Luke Garza: email@example.com, @LukeAGarza