RENO — It wasn’t pretty — ever.
The Reno Aces blew an early 8-0 lead, but rallied for three in the fifth and four in the sixth to grab a 15-12 win over El Paso before a crowd of 4,409 at Greater Nevada Field Tuesday afternoon.
The win capped a disappointing 3-6 homestand for the Aces, who visit El Paso for a four-game series starting Thursday. What made that record disappointing was Reno had gone 9-3 on its recent road trip.
“It’s a matter of us playing good ball, and we didn’t do that these past nine games,” Aces manager Phil Nevin said after the contest. “They (El Paso) really hit. They have the best Triple-A offense I’ve seen.
“A win is a win, and this was an ugly win. It would have been a little hard going into an off day (losing), but we responded well after blowing the eight-run lead. We made some good defensive plays late.”
Reno scored four in the first and four in the second for a quick 8-0 lead against El Paso starter Daniel McCutcheon. The big blows were a two-run homer by Kyle Jensen and a two-run single by Carlos Rivero, both in the first inning, and run-scoring hits by Zach Borenstein and Ed Lucas, who went 3-for-3, in the second. Lucas reached base all five times he batted.
Jensen’s homer was his 15th of the season and 10th in the month of June. He has a franchise record 39 RBI this month.
Then it got extremely ugly.
Reno starter Edwin Escobar wiggled out of a third-inning jam with just one run, and then El Paso scored six times in the fourth to make it 8-7. Escobar faced six batters in the fourth, retiring just one. He left with an 8-4 lead and two runners on.
“He lost command of his fastball early,” Nevin said. “He had a little nail issue that affected things. We have to get that looked at.”
Matt Buschman came on and gave up a three-run homer to Austin Hedges, which sliced Reno’s lead to 8-7. Buschman retired the next two batters, quelling the uprising.
El Paso went ahead 9-8 in the top of the fifth on run-scoring singles by Carlos Asuaje and Diego Gores, both off Buschman, who wasn’t effective in his 1 2/3 innings of work yet would still pick up the win.
McCutcheon, who was battered early, didn’t make it out of the fifth, however.
Lucas walked and advanced to second on a single by Todd Glaesman. Both runners moved up on Rivero’s infield out. Mark Thomas walked to load the bases, and Gabby Guerrero followed with a sacrifice fly which tied the game at 9. Reno went ahead 10-9 on an error, chasing McCutcheon. Daniel Moskos came on and surrendered a run-scoring single to Jack Reinheimer to make it 11-9.
Hedges hit a leadoff homer in the sixth off Enrique Burgos to make it 11-10, but that’s as close as El Paso would get the rest of the way.
Reno answered the Hedges homer with four runs off Moskos in the sixth to take a 15-10 lead.
Glaesman and pinch-hitter Sean Jamieson had run-scoring doubles, while Mike Freeman had a run-scoring single and Mark Thomas a sacrifice fly.
“Anytime you get up early, you have to keep adding runs, especially against El Paso,” Glaesman said. “El Paso swings the bat well. It’s nice to go into an off day with a win. It wasn’t the kind of homestand we’d hoped for, but sometimes that’s the way baseball is.”
The encouraging thing about Reno is the way it has responded without Peter O’Brien and Socrates Brito, two of their biggest offensive threats, who were called up by the Diamondbacks.
“A lot of guys have stepped into different roles,” Glaesman said. “When Peter went up, Jensen stepped up, and other guys are coming through.”
HITTING THE ROAD: After an off day today, the Aces will play four straight against El Paso. On Thursday, Zack Godley (2-0, 2.70) will oppose Carlos Pimentel (7-4, 6.39). The Aces return home for a three-game pre-All Star homestand against division-leading Tacoma starting July 4.
END FOR DRABEK: As expected, the Diamondbacks and Kyle Drabek parted ways on Monday. Drabek compiled a 3-6 record with a 6.68 ERA. In 15 games, 11 starts, Drabek allowed 91 hits in 68 innings pitched.
HANDLING THE BAT: Through the first two innings, three players lost the handle on the bat. The third player was Reno’s Lucas. His bat sailed 10 rows deep into the stands above the Reno dugout. Lucas lost his bat again in the bottom of the fifth. It sailed into the netting above the dugout.
STREAKING: Mike Freeman went 2-for-6, extending his hit streak to eight straight games. He hit .333 on the homestand with three RBI. Borenstein is now on a six-game streak after going 1-for-4 with an RBI. He hit .347 on the homestand. Jensen and Rivero currently have three game streaks.