Cats fall 2-0 in series opener to Isotopes

Sacramento starter Bruce Billings battled through a season-high eight innings on the hill, giving up two runs on four hits in a 2-0 loss to the Albuquerque Isotopes on Tuesday night at Raley Field.

Both teams were kept off the scoreboard until the seventh inning, when a pair of runs from the Isotopes gave Albuquerque all they would need. After a Matt Angle triple to lead off the inning, Scott Van Slyke drove in the first run of the game with an RBI double. Justin Sellers extended the lead to two with a sacrifice fly to center, hitting it deep enough for Van Slyke to tag up and score easily.

Sacramento’s best chance to score came in the ninth inning, after an Anthony Aliotti sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third with one out. However, a groundout to Isotope’s third baseman Ian Stewart by Hiro Nakajima and a pop out to right by David Freitas allowed Isotopes reliever Javy Guerra to escape with his eighth save of the season.

Billings took the loss for the Cats, suffering only his second defeat at Raley Field this season. Coming into Tuesday’s game, the right-hander boasted a 6-1 mark and 3.73 ERA when pitching at home. In his last two starts he has gone 15.1 innings, posting a 2.38 ERA over that stretch with eight strikeouts. Isotopes reliever Peter Moylan earned the win, his fifth of the season. In his lone inning of relief, he struck out two while not allowing a run.

Sacramento outfielder Michael Choice extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 2-for-4 with a double. The two-bagger was his 45th extra-base hit of the season, tops on the team. Reliever Hideki Okajima threw an inning of scoreless relief. The lefty has not surrendered a run since giving up two on June 9 at Colorado Springs.

The River Cats continue their first home series with the Isotopes since 2011 on Free Parking Wednesday presented by Jiffy Lube. Right-hander Travis Banwart (6-5, 4.95 ERA) will get his ninth home start for Sacramento, while left-hander Rob Rasmussen (0-5, 5.59 ERA) will take the ball for the Isotopes.

Special to The Enterprise

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