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Reno continues dominance of Tacoma
by Aaron Retherford
Jul 29, 2009 | 478 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In their third attempt at getting to Hector Ambriz, the Tacoma Rainiers still could not solve the Reno Aces’ starting pitcher.

In fact, the Rainiers haven't figured out much about the Aces this year.

A pair of three-run rallies in the fourth and fifth innings was all the run support Ambriz needed as he helped Reno claim an 11-4 home win in front of a crowd of 4,440 at Aces Ballpark Wednesday night.

It was the Aces’ 11th straight win over the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate and the fifth straight win at home overall.

Ambriz entered the matchup with a 2.51 ERA versus the Rainiers and tossed six innings of three-run ball. Ambriz walked the leadoff batter of the game on four straight pitches, but he settled down and struck out seven, while scattering eight hits to move to 5-7.

Both teams threatened in the second inning, but only one came through in the clutch.

Tacoma's Bryan LaHair doubled the opposite way with one out. Two batters later, Adam Moore singled to right field but LaHair did not test Brandon Watson’s arm and stayed at third, leaving runners on the corners. But that’s where the runners stayed as No. 9 hitter Josh Wilson hit into an inning-ending groundout.

Reno's John Hester’s leadoff single in the second inning increased his hitting streak at Aces Ballpark to 24 games, but he didn’t stay on the basepaths long and was cut down trying to steal second. It wasn’t a rally killer though.

With two outs, Cole Gillespie drew a walk and Watson beat out a broken bat infield hit. Tacoma’s Brandon Morrow handed Agustin Murillo a free pass to load the bases and the Aces No. 9 hitter came through.

Abraham Nunez plated Gillespie with an RBI single to shallow left field, breaking a scoreless tie.

The 1-0 Aces lead was short-lived though. Following a Mike Carp double, Brad Nelson belted out a two-run shot with two outs in the top of the third for a 2-1 Rainiers lead.

Ambriz got into trouble again in the fourth when LaHair and Alex Cintron both singled, putting runners on first and third with no outs. However, a strikeout and a timely double play thwarted Tacoma’s threat.

The Aces answered with a counterpunch in the bottom half of the fourth frame when Gillespie and Murillo both walked. Reno took the lead back on Trent Oeltjen’s 14th triple of the year, off the wall in center field. Oeltjen made it 4-2 thanks to Rusty Ryal’s run-scoring single.

Reno never trailed Tacoma (49-55) again.

Hester stayed perfect on the night, crushing the first pitch he saw in the fifth inning for a solo homer to left field, pushing the gap to 5-2. Hester finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Reno (55-50) kept pouring it on in the inning. Morrow issued his fifth walk of the game, and Gillespie singled Ruben Gotay over to third, where he scored thanks to a Watson sacrifice fly.

Morrow exited the game and Eric Hull took over mound duties with the scoreboard reading 6-2 in favor of the home team. It quickly changed to 7-2 when Gillespie swiped third and came home on Murillo’s line drive single to left.

Morrow, who has been the topic of recent trade rumors, did not help his stock by going 4 1-3 innings and giving up seven runs on eight hits and five walks.

LaHair launched a no-doubter in the sixth inning to close the gap to 7-3.

The Aces showed why they are 12-2 in the season series with the Rainiers by batting around the order in the bottom of the sixth, posting a four-spot on the scoreboard.

Reno did not hit Hull hard in the sixth, but Oeltjen and Ryal dropped in consecutive singles to shallow center field before Brandon Allen loaded the bases with an infield single to third, extending his hit streak to a franchise-high 13 games.

Still with no outs, Hester pushed two runs across with his fourth hit of the game, adding to the cushion, 9-3.

With the sacks saturated again, a fielder’s choice allowed Allen to score. The lead went to 11-3 on Murillo’s second RBI single, driving in Hester with two outs.

As good as Hester was for Reno, LaHair was arguably a bit better after he smashed a towering bases-empty home run in the top of the ninth, his 20th of the season. LaHair was 4-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI’s in the loss. All Tacoma’s run came off the long ball.

Ryal had three of the Aces’ 15 hits.

The final series between the two teams continues today at 7:05 p.m.

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