It had been a while since the Tacoma Rainiers had faced Kyle Lohse.
Fifteen years, to be exact. But the result was just about the same.
The 37-year-old major league veteran continued his comeback bid by pitching six strong innings against the Rainiers, earning the win in Round Rock’s series-opening 4-3 victory on Monday night.
“He threw four (different) pitches for strikes,” said Tacoma manager Pat Listach. “We watched video of his last start and he didn’t throw many strikes. Today he had command of all of his pitches.”
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Tacoma could only manage one hit over the first five innings against Lohse, while Round Rock built a 4-0 lead against Rainiers starter Adrian Sampson. Ike Davis hit a three-run homer to center field in the bottom of the sixth inning, and the Express used three singles to score another run in the fourth.
The Rainiers finally started to get to Lohse in the sixth after the third time through the batting order. Stefen Romero singled in Luis Sardinas, Efren Navarro pulled a double to the corner, and a Mike Zunino sacrifice fly scored Romero to make it 4-2.
“We finally got to him in the sixth inning,” Listach said. “We battled and had a chance to tie it in the ninth inning.”
Lohse last faced the Rainiers on June 11, 2001. Pitching for the now-defunct Edmonton Trappers, Lohse shut down the likes of Ramon Vazquez, Scott Podsednik, and Juan “The Large Human” Thomas in a 3-1 win over Tacoma starter Brett Tomko. Shortly after that game, Lohse was promoted to the Minnesota Twins and went on to win 147 major league games.
After going 5-13 with a 5.85 ERA for the Brewers last season, Lohse went unsigned during the offseason. The Texas Rangers inked him to a minor league deal on May 14 and Monday’s start was his second appearance of the season.
Former Mariners and Rainiers reliever Tom Wilhelmsen came on in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings before the Rainiers rallied in the ninth against Express closer Francisco Mendoza.
With two on and one out, Dario Pizzano singled down the left field line to score Mike Baxter, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Zach Shank lined out to right, and Rob Brantly was left stranded at third representing the tying run.
Prior to the game, the Texas Rangers designated former Rainiers infielder Patrick Kivlehan for assignment.
Tacoma sends Donn Roach (3-2, 6.43 ERA) against Round Rock’s Chi Chi Gonzalez (1-4, 6.12) at 5:05 p.m. (PDT) Tuesday.