RENO, Nev. — Despite a strong start from Bruce Billings and a pair of late-inning rallies, the Sacramento River Cats dropped the series finale to the Reno Aces, 3-1, on Thursday night at Aces Ballpark.
Billings (8-3) battled through 5 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking five in the losing effort. He surrendered just two runs — both earned — and six hits, losing for the first time since May 8. He had gone 6-0 in his last six starts.
The Cats offense mustered just six hits — five of them singles — a night after posting a 9-7 victory over Reno. The River Cats mounted rallies in the eighth and ninth innings, getting two runners on in both frames, but could not push across the tying runs. In the ninth, Sacramento loaded the bases with two outs for Grant Green, but Aces closer Chaz Roe struck him out to end the game, helping Reno salvage a series split.
The bottom three hitters in the Cats order — Hiro Nakajima, Shane Peterson and Andy Parrino — combined to go 4-for-12 with the River Cats’ lone RBI, a run-scoring single by Peterson in the seventh. But Sacramento’s top six hitters combined to go just 2-for-21 with seven strikeouts in the loss.
The Cats return to Raley Field on Friday to begin a four-game series against the Tacoma Rainiers. In the series opener, River Cats left-hander Justin Thomas (3-4, 4.06 ERA) will square off against Tacoma righty Brandon Maurer (0-1, 1.42 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.