One mistake can change a game, and the Tacoma Rainiers were on the unfortunate side of that equation on Saturday night.
Reliever Tyler Olson left an 0-2 curveball up in the strike zone in the eighth inning, Matt McBride sent it flying over the left-field fence, and Albuquerque had a come-from-behind 5-3 victory over Tacoma.
“We had the lead the entire game, until the eighth inning with two outs,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said.
Tacoma saw a three-game win streak end, as well as its bid to reach the .500 mark for the for the first time since the team was 2-2. Tacoma’s record stands at 34-36.
The Rainiers scored the first three runs, all against Albuquerque starter Jair Jurrjens.
One day after going 0 for 6 to end a 20-game hitting streak, Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-out RBI double in the first inning. He scored moments later on a single by Stefen Romero.
The Rainiers added another run in the fourth, when Patrick Kivlehan doubled and scored on a hit by Carlos Rivero.
Tacoma’s Jordan Pries made a successful return from the disabled list, delivering four shutout innings of one-hit ball. Out since May 5 with forearm tightness, Pries threw 55 pitches while striking out three and walking two.
“He was outstanding; the one hit he gave up we debated the pitch sequence,” Listach said. “He could have allowed no hits. It’s good to have him healthy.”
David Rollins pitched a scoreless fifth inning before the Rainiers brought Olson into the game for the sixth.
Olson, a former Gonzaga star, allowed a two-run homer to Kyle Parker, making it 3-2, but he got back on track with a scoreless seventh inning.
Trying to protect the one-run lead in the eighth, Olson allowed a leadoff single to Tim Wheeler before retiring the next two hitters.
With Wheeler at third and two outs, Olson got ahead of the cleanup hitter McBride with two quick strikes.
After a foul ball, catcher Steve Baron called for a low curveball. Instead, Olson left it up and over the plate — and McBride pulled it out of the park to left field for his 10th homer of the season.
“He was trying to bounce a curveball, he left it up, and McBride didn’t miss it,” Listach said. “It was the right pitch; he just didn’t execute it.”
Albuquerque added another run when Drew Stubbs followed with a triple, and Dustin Garneau singled him in.
The road trip ends with a 5:05 p.m. (PDT) game Sunday. Tacoma starts Stephen Landazuri (0-3, 8.42 ERA) against Albuquerque’s Jon Gray (3-5, 4.62).