One pitch in the dirt proved to be the Albuquerque Isotopes' undoing Tuesday night. Xavier Avery struck out but reached on a passed ball and later scored the winning run as the visiting Tacoma Rainiers pulled off a 7-5 victory.
Avery reached with one out in the ninth, stole a base and then scored when James Jones smoked a two-out triple off the center field fence. The Rainiers (60-58) would tack on an insurance run on Ji-Man Choi's RBI single. Robert Carson (2-3) took the loss in relief.
"It's just kind of icing on the cake the way we played today," manager Damon Berryhill said. "The pitching staff was outstanding. They did a great job. ... We just didn't get it done defensively."
The game was a pitching duel early between Zach Lee and Jordan Pries. Tacoma held a 2-1 lead going to the sixth when Clint Robinson hit an RBI triple and Jamie Romak followed with a two-run homer to make it 4-2 in favor of Albuquerque (54-64).
That lead would not hold. Lee gave up a single, wild pitch and an RBI double to start the seventh before being pulled. Reliever Scott Elbert gave up an infield single to Avery to put runners at the corners.
Leury Bonilla hit a grounder to shortstop Darwin Barney, who threw awkwardly past second base. Hicks scored the tying run while Avery advanced to third base on the error.
Jones hit into a 4-6-3 double play, but Avery scored the go-ahead run to make it 5-4. The Isotopes tied it up in the bottom of the frame as Mike Baxter doubled, went to third on Erisbel Arruebarrena's single and scord on a double-play grounder.
"I thought we did a decent job offensively and an outstanding job pitching," Berryhill said. "It's one of those losses you kind of have to eat it."
Lee was charged with four runs on six hits and two walks in six-plus innings. He did not strike out a batter but it was still his best start in some time.
"Zach, he got himself into some trouble and then he had two groundballs that we should have turned into double plays that ended up costing him," Berryhill said. "As far as making the pitches he definitely made them."
Lee had given up 13 runs in his previous 16.2 innings. Berryhill said the coaching staff has been working with him to turn things around.
"He's just working on posture a little bit," Berryhill said. "Basically posture and getting into a better direction (in his follow-through). He's been working on little things and it showed tonight in how he pitched."
Joc Pederson went 0-for-3, pushing his slump to 2-for-28. Tim Federowicz did not exactly celebrate his 27th birthday, going 0-for-4.
Romak was 2-for-4 with two home runs, his 20th and 21st on the season. He was the only Isotope with multiple hits.
The Isotopes will take Wednesday off before going to Las Vegas for a four-game series. The next home game in Albuquerque will be next Tuesday against Memphis.