SALT LAKE CITY – The Sacramento River Cats cut a late five-run deficit to a single run with back-to-back homers, but could not complete the comeback, falling to the Salt Lake Bees on Thursday at Spring Mobile Ballpark, 8-4.
Trailing 5-0 in the top of the seventh, the Cats started a rally with back-to-back one-out singles by Michael Choice and Stephen Vogt. Daric Barton cleared the bases with a three-run homer, his fourth of the season, before Hiroyuki Nakajima followed with his third long ball of the year, cutting the Bees’ lead to 5-4.
But that would be as close as the Cats would get, as Salt Lake tacked on two runs in the bottom of the frame and an insurance run in the eighth, defeating Sacramento for the fifth straight time after the River Cats captured each of the first six games of the 2013 season series.
The loss fell to Travis Banwart (4-3) after he surrendered five earned runs in six innings. Banwart struck out four and walked two.
Bees starter Barry Enright (3-3) earned the victory despite giving up all four River Cats runs. He struck out six without walking a batter in seven innings.
The Cats have lost their fourth game in a row for the first time this season, and are in danger of being swept in a series for the first time since August 2011 at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa. Entering the current series, they have gone 58-straight series without being swept.
The Cats and Bees conclude the series Friday night from Spring Mobile Ballpark, with Sacramento sending PCL ERA leader Sonny Gray (7-4, 2.62 ERA) to the mound against Salt Lake RHP Billy Buckner (6-2, 4.50 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.
The River Cats return home for an 11-game homestand beginning Saturday at Raley Field against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The homestand will feature four fireworks shows, culminating with the annual July 3 fireworks extravaganza, the biggest show of the season.