The Tacoma Rainiers got off to a great start Sunday, with catcher Rob Brantly launching a two-run homer in the first inning.
By the time the game ended, the Rainiers had not scored again and Brantly had left with an injury.
The Memphis Redbirds hit their own big home run and took down Tacoma, 6-2.
Tacoma needs a win in Monday’s finale to escape with a split in the four-game series.
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“We haven’t played well the last four games,” said Rainiers manager Pat Listach. “We were lucky to win one here (Saturday).”
The starter for Tacoma (70-51), Zach Lee, took the early lead into the fourth inning, when a botched grounder on a potential double play led to an unearned run for Memphis (59-62).
The Redbirds added another run in the fifth, when former Rainiers first baseman Efren Navarro singled in Jacob Wilson to tie the game. The rally continued, and cleanup hitter David Washington came to the plate with two runners on and two outs.
Washington fell behind in the count, but fouled off pitches until it was full. He launched Lee’s payoff pitch into the bullpen beyond the fence in left-center field for a three-run homer, giving Memphis a 5-2 lead.
“Once we made the error at second base, our pitcher was a different guy,” said Listach. “Next thing you know, we give up five runs.”
It was the 28th home run of the season for Washington, who has hit 23 since being promoted to Triple-A Memphis at the beginning of May.
Lee allowed five runs (four earned) over five innings to take the loss. His record since joining Tacoma fell to 0-6.
Brantly’s injury came on an unusual play in the sixth inning. He looped a single into shallow left field, and as he reached first base he tripped and rolled his left ankle on the bag.
“We’ll see tomorrow,” said Listach. “(Trainer) Tom Newberg wants to reassess how he is after 24 hours.”
Jesus Sucre replaced Brantly after the injury. If Brantly is unavailable, Tacoma is down to 10 position players and one healthy catcher.
The Rainiers have not lost a series since dropping three of four to Reno in June. … Mike Freeman had two hits, and has hit safely in all nine games he has played for Tacoma.
Tacoma will start RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-0, 2.10 ERA) at 4:35 p.m. (Pacific) Monday. RHP Mike Mayers (3-5, 3.06) is set to start for the Redbirds.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.