51s try to stem skid heading into All-Star break

Baseball’s annual All-Star break typically flies by for players, but it might seem like a long layoff for the 51s if they don’t enter it with a win.

Las Vegas will try to avoid a four-game sweep by Tacoma at 12:05 p.m. today at Cashman Field in its final game before the three-day break.

The 51s lost to the Rainiers 5-3 on Sunday for their fourth loss in five games and sixth straight home loss to Tacoma.

“Am I happy about it? No. Can I explain why? No,” 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “The last three nights, offensively, we haven’t gotten it done. We’re the top hitting team in the league and in scoring runs, and I expect more from our hitters.

“They’ve pitched OK, but I think we’re better than we’ve shown. It’s a little disappointing. We’ll see who steps up (today).”

Las Vegas, which leads the Pacific Coast League with a .300 team batting average and 585 runs will be missing PCL All-Stars A.J. Ellis and Terry Tiffee today.

Tiffee, who leads the PCL with a .393 average, was 1-for-5 Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He ended the contest by ripping a liner to second base that was snared by Tacoma’s Luis Valbuena, who leaped to make the catch and preserve the win with the potential tying run on first.

Las Vegas (50-48) had loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth and pulled within 5-3 on a sacrifice fly by Xavier Paul. Mitch Jones flew out to deep center for the second out.

“For some reason they’ve got our number right now,” said 51s left fielder John-Ford Griffin, who went 2-for-3 with a solo shot to extend his hitting streak to nine games and lift his average to .307. “We’re still in the (playoff) race and we need to get this win to go into the All-Star Break with some good momentum.”

Tacoma (48-49) scored all five runs off Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jason Schmidt, who allowed five hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.

Schmidt, 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA in four rehab starts for Las Vegas, left after 63 pitches (41 strikes) as he continued his comeback from career-threatening shoulder surgery.

“He got some balls up early and got his pitch count up really early,” Bundy said. “Health-wise, he seemed to come out of it OK so that’s a positive.”

Prentice Redman drew a walk to lead off the game, Matt Tuiasosopo doubled and Bryan LaHair lined a run-scoring single.

Wladimir Balentien made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly, and Craig Wilson crushed a two-run drive deep over the left-field wall to give the Rainiers a 4-0 lead.

Tacoma scored an unearned run in the second and loaded the bases with one out in the third to chase Schmidt.

Jason Johnson retired the next two batters to escape the jam and pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits with five strikeouts and no walks.

• NOTE — Dodgers infielder-outfielder Mark Sweeney went 0-for-3 Sunday and batted .250 (4-for-16) in his three-game rehab assignment for a strained right hamstring. Sweeney left the team after the sixth inning to catch a flight and is expected to join Los Angeles shortly after the All-Star Break.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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