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Pitching struggles continue as Isotopes lose third straight

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It was more of the same at Isotopes Park on Monday night. The relievers were ineffective and the lineup could not hit enough to bail them out.

Add it all up and the Albuquerque Isotopes lost 8-6 to the Tacoma Rainiers. Albuquerque dropped its third in a row as Tacoma captured the four-game series.

"We've got to do a better job pitching," manager Damon Berryhill said. "We swung the bats well, we had opportunities, had our hits and drove in runs. But it wasn't a clean game. Against this caliber of talent you really can't get away with making mistakes in a ballgame."

Stephen Fife, who entered the game with an ERA of 14.73 in two starts, continued to struggle. The right-hander allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits and six walks in four-plus innings.

"He's had three starts and they haven't been up to his standards, he'd be the first to tell you that," Berryhill said. "It's been rough for him, but he's going to get the ball again. It was a little better today."

The Isotopes (5-6) battled back to take a 6-4 lead on Alex Guerrero's towering solo home run to left field in the fourth inning and Nick Buss' RBI single in the fifth. Then the bullpen faltered for the third straight game as three relievers combined to allow four runs in five innings of work.

Yimi Garcia gave up one unearned run in two innings of work. Daniel Moskos then gave up a run in 1.1 innings without surrendering a hit. He hit Cole Gillespie with a pitch, then saw Gillespie steal second, move to third on a wild pitch and score on a groundout to shortstop in the seventh inning, tying the game.

Steve Edlefsen (0-1) came on in the eighth and got two outs despite throwing just one pitch. He got Chris Taylor to fly out to right field and then picked off James Jones at first base.

The highlights ended there for Edlefsen, who gave up an RBI double to Ji-Man Choi and an RBI groundout to Jesus Sucre in the ninth. He also walked two batters in an otherwise forgettable outing.

"The sad thing is we've had the lead in the seventh inning in all three games we lost," Berryhill said. "You can't come away with three losses in that situation. We've got to do a better job coming out of the bullpen."

Guerrero was again the offensive standout for Albuquerque. He went 3-for-3 with a walk, meaning he has reached base in seven straight plate appearances since flying out in his first career Triple-A at-bat on Sunday. Defensively he was shakier, committing his first error on a wide throw to first base in the third inning that led to Tacoma's second run.

"He's swinging the bat well right now, there's no question about it," Berryhill said. "We're going to keep running him out there. He's got some work to do at second. The one (error) he made he ended up throwing it across his body and throwing it by Clint (Robinson). We're going to pound it every day with early work and see if we can improve on it."

The Isotopes will try to shake it off and rebound Tuesday as the El Paso Chihuahuas will make their first visit to Albuquerque. The four-game series will kick off at 6:35 p.m.



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