The Tacoma Rainiers’ offense has hit a lull in the middle of the eight-game road trip to Round Rock, Texas, and New Orleans.
After managing only five hits and one run in Thursday’s series finale at Round Rock, Tacoma traveled to New Orleans on Friday and accomplished a little less: just four hits in a 3-1, series-opening loss to the Zephyrs.
That adds up to nine hits total as the first-place Rainiers lost back-to-back games for the first time since April 29-30.
For the second game in a row, Tacoma’s only run was scored on a solo homer by Efren Navarro. Each time the home run has come in the top of the second inning. This time, Navarro took New Orleans starter Chris Narveson out to left field for his third homer of the season.
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“It’s not a good thing when Navarro hits a home run for our only run of the game,” said Tacoma manager Pat Listach. “We seem to lose when that happens.”
Narveson lasted six innings for the Zephyrs. He retired the final six batters he faced, and watched from the dugout as his bullpen was perfect in the final three innings.
New Orleans third baseman Matt Juengel had a productive night. His two-out RBI single in the first brought in the game’s first run, and his solo homer in the third made it 3-1.
“Their third baseman hit a home run and made some nice plays,” Listach said.
In the ninth, Tacoma’s Daniel Robertson led off against Zephyrs reliever Craig Breslow. Robertson pulled a hard grounder down the third base line, but Juengel made a terrific diving stop and threw out Robertson.
Breslow retired the next two batters to earn his first save of the season.
Rainiers starter Brad Mills took the loss, giving up three runs in 3 2/3 innings. Juengel and Tomas Telis each knocked home runs off him in the third inning.
Tacoma was down to 10 position players because Stefen Romero was flown to Seattle as Leonys Martin went on the disabled list. … Tacoma won the annual series against New Orleans in each of the last three years, each time three games to one.
RHP Adrian Sampson (4-3, 3.32 ERA) will take the mound for Tacoma at 4 p.m. (Pacific) Saturday. New Orleans will start LHP Chris Reed (0-1, 4.80).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.