The fourth inning of Monday night’s game against the Tacoma Rainiers was like something out of a nightmare for starting pitcher Andrew Werner and the rest of the Sacramento River Cats.
The Rainiers notched seven runs on six hits in the top of the inning, sending Werner to the dugout for the night and setting the Cats too far back to ever completely recover. The locals went on to lose 7-5 at Raley Field.
“It wasn’t anything fancy. (It started with) a couple of base hits and the ball getting through,” Sacramento manager Steve Scarsone said afterward. “Any of those balls go to somebody and it changes the whole inning.
“Werner didn’t make the pitches in that inning that he needed to (make) to keep that inning from getting big like that. He’s proven to be able to handle (difficult situations), so (it was) just one of those (innings).”
The loss came on a night when longtime River Cat Michael Taylor had three hits to tie Esteban German for the all-time franchise record with 401.
The Cats (40-31) didn’t need any hits — using an error and a wild pitch — to open the scoring in the bottom of third, ending that inning with a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, Werner opened the inning on a positive note as Dustin Ackley grounded out in Tacoma’s first at-bat. But Justin Smoak doubled and then scored on a single by Carlos Peguero, before Stefen Romero and Jason Jaramillo loaded the bases with a single and a walk, respectively.
Robert Andino hit a double to bring Peguero and Romero across the plate and Abraham Almonte did the same to set up runs by Jaramillo and Andino. Franklin Gutierrez capped off the offensive fireworks with a homer that sailed into the aptly titled Home Run Terrace seating section beyond the left-field fence, putting the Rainiers (43-29) up 7-1.
Werner, who struck out three batters while giving up eight hits and the seven runs, was relieved by Paul Smyth after the big inning. Smyth and the three Cats pitchers who followed him — Hideki Okajima, Kyler Newby and Chris Resop — fared better against the Tacoma lineup, holding the Rainiers to no runs on two hits.
Sacramento’s hitters took advantage of their relievers’ performances, but weren’t able to do enough to bring the River Cats all the way back.
In the bottom of the seventh, Taylor smashed a solo home run into right field to bring his team within five and, in the ninth, the locals added three more runs.
With the Cats down to their final out, Jeremy Barfield, Jermile Weeks and Grant Green all got on base before Stephen Vogt doubled to bring Barfield and Weeks home. Michael Choice singled to plate Green, but the game ended when Luke Montz flied out to left.
Taylor led the way offensively for Sacramento, while Green and Vogt each finished 2-for-4.
The River Cats now turn their attention to a four-game series at Salt Lake. The opener is set for Tuesday at 6:05 p.m.
— Reach Will Bellamy at [email protected]