RENO — Two bad innings and a sub-par performance by their big hitters spelled disaster for the Reno Aces.
The Aces gave up four in the third and three in the eighth, and Mitch Haniger, Peter O’Brien and Kyle Jensen went a combined 1-for-9 with a run, an RBI and six strikeouts.
It added up to a 9-3 loss to the Oklahoma City Dodgers before a crowd of 7,883 at Great Nevada Field Friday night.
“Jensen had an RBI,” Aces manager Phil Nevin said. “Those guys have put up some good numbers this season. Sometimes they are going to have days where they swing and miss. We faced a good arm (Jose De Leon), who is a strikeout pitcher.
“The third we had a chance to get out of that inning with possibly no runs, maybe one but no more than two. We didn’t execute on the double steal and there was an 0-2 pitch with two strikes that (John) Omahen would like to have back.”
Singles by Micah Johnson and LA Dodger star Joc Pederson put runners on first and third in the top of the third. Rob Segedin followed with a groundball to third. Johnson bolted for home, thinking Carlos Rivero would go for the double play, and was an easy out.
Corey Brown flied out to left, and Omahen left a 0-2 pitch up and Austin Barnes singled home Pederson to make it 1-0. With Zach Walters up, the Dodgers worked a double steal, Segedin beating the throw home and Barnes taking second. Walters capped the barrage with a two-run homer to right.
“We have to get an out (somewhere) on that play,” Nevin said.
Reno bounced back with two runs in the fourth. Haniger walked and scored on Jensen’s double to right-centerfield. After Gabby Guerrero struck out, Rivero extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a run-scoring single.
The Aces threatened in the fifth when Mike Freeman blooped a one-out double down the left field line. He moved to third on Jack Reinheimer’s deep fly ball to center, but was stranded when O’Brien struck out for the third time in the game.
It has been a case of feast or famine this year for O’Brien, who has 36 extra-base hits this year and 73 strikeouts. In a brief stint with the Diamondbacks, O’Brien went 7-for-57 with 25 strikeouts. The Aces set a season high with 15 strikeouts on Friday, 10 of those against De Leon in 5.2 innings.
The Aces trimmed the lead to 4-3 on Haniger’s sacrifice fly to right. Freeman, who had two hits, reached third on the play, but was stranded when O’Brien grounded out.
That was the last hurrah for the Aces, who were set down in order over the final two innings by lefty Grant Dayton.
The Dodgers put the game out of reach in the eighth when Walters doubled and James Ramsey walked. O’Koyea Dickson in a pinch-hit role, slugged a three-run homer off Kaleb Fleck, who was making his first appearance since coming off the disabled list.
“I thought Fleck threw well,” Nevin said. “He left it out to a good hitter. The walk to the No. 8 hitter was big.”
PEDERSON ON REHAB
Los Angeles Dodgers centerfielder Pederson started and batted second for the Dodgers. He is on a rehab assignment.
He went 1-for-2 and walked twice.
SHERFY IS PERFECT
Jimmie Sherfy, who picked up his second save for the Aces on Thursday, is 20-for-20 in saves this season. Sherfy, the former Oregon Duck star, has pitched for Visalia, Mobile and Reno this season. In 38 innings, he has struck out 61 batters and has a 0.47 ERA. He has allowed just two earned runs.
The four-game series continues today, also at 7:05 p.m., with OKC’s Ross Stripling (0-1, 2.13) facing Reno’s Matt Buschmann (5-6, 5.44).
In the series finale on Sunday at 6:05 p.m., Jharel Cotton (7-4, 4,47) of OKC faces Anthony Banda (0-2, 6.60).
The Dodgers lead the all-time series against the Aces, 20-10. This is the Dodgers first trip to Reno since the 2014 season … If you go by records the Pacific Northern Division is the toughest. The top three teams — Tacoma (50-40), Fresno (47-42) and Reno (47-44) – are all over .500. The PCL American Southern Division has two teams over .500 — Nashville (50-42) and Round Rock (47-45). Memphis currently sits at 45-45 …
The Aces are three games ahead of last year’s mark thanks to a slightly better ERA (4.91 to 5.31) and more run production (5.10 to 5.00) …
The Diamondbacks recalled Edwin Escobar, who was supposed to start Friday’s game. Fleck was reinstated from the disabled list and in uniform for the Aces. Pitcher Myles Smith was sent from Reno to Visalia. It hasn’t been confirmed, but Chris Owings may be coming to Reno on a rehab assignment.