Counting on their advantage at home, where their record stands at 21-6, the Rainiers were tied at 1-1 after the fifth inning Thursday.
But a six-run sixth inning, which included a three-run homer, doomed Tacoma in a 7-1 loss to the Reno Aces at a rainy Cheney Stadium.
“We didn’t swing the bats very well tonight,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said.
The Rainiers (34-25) hold a three-game lead over the Aces (31-28) in the PCL Pacific Northern standings.
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The Aces couldn’t turn three hits into a run in the first inning, while the Rainiers scored off an Efren Navarro sacrifice fly. In the second inning, a Tuffy Gosewisch double off the left field wall drove in a base runner from first for Reno, tying the score at 1-1.
Reno came close to taking the lead in the fifth, when Socrates Brito drilled a triple down the third-base line, and then watched Tacoma’s Donn Roach close out the inning over the course of the next three batters.
Going into the sixth inning, Listach was leery of Roach’s pitch count, but decided to leave him in.
“They came out and ambushed (Roach),” Listach said. “He tried to go back out there, we tried to give him one more inning to see if he could do it, and they were swinging.”
Roach, who gave up nine hits, three earned runs, three walks and struck out three in 5 1/3 innings, was replaced by Casey Coleman after giving up consecutive doubles to start the sixth
Later in the inning, the Aces put two more runners on base as Peter O’Brien reached first on a throwing error by third baseman Tyler Smith and Brito hit a ground-ball single to right field. First baseman Kyle Jensen then blasted the three-run homer, his ninth of the season, to left-center to put Reno up 7-1.
“You can’t give teams more than three outs,” Listach said, referencing the error. “We gave them more than three outs and they scored six.”
Brito finished 4 for 5 and Gosewich had two doubles. Reno finished with 14 hits to Tacoma’s six. Boog Powell, who went 3 for 4, was the only Rainier with more than one hit.
To cap the tail end of his time on the disabled list, Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin was scratched for precautionary reasons after the forecast for rain. Martin, who suffered a strained left hamstring May 27, will be activated to play Friday in Seattle. He left Tacoma around 2 p.m. Thursday to make the Mariners’ batting practice, according to Listach.
Right-hander Jarrett Grube was added to the Rainiers roster after signing a minor league contract Thursday. Grube, who was released by the Cleveland Indians, made 11 appearances for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers this season, including seven starts. He posted an 0-3 record and a 4.43 ERA.
Righty Andrew Kittredge was sent down to the Double-A Jackson Generals on Thursday. Kittredge (1-1, 4.03), a UW grad, made two appearances, one start, with the Rainiers. He opened the season with Jackson, where he made 11 appearances, including three starts.
The Rainiers and Aces play at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Cheney, with Tacoma’s Cody Martin (5-3, 5.55) listed to start against Reno’s Edgar Garcia (2-2, 6.58).