The 51s were in danger of finishing out their longest homestand of the year, one which looked so promising at the start, with six straight losses.
A late comeback Thursday saved them from that fate.
Las Vegas piled on four runs in the eighth inning for a 9-7 victory over Reno to prevent the sweep at Cashman Field.
Matt Reynolds’ game-tying hit and Kevin Plawecki’s go-ahead two-run double off Erik Davis in the eighth inning ensured that the 51s finished their 12-game homestand at .500.
“We went 6-6 on the homestand and faced three teams that are in first place or battling for first place. Colorado Springs, Oklahoma City and these guys. These guys have put up astronomical numbers this year,” starter Donovan Hand said. “One of four is not great but … we could have laid down and they could have swept us.”
That didn’t happen as the 51s came back from two deficits.
In the fourth, the Aces (68-50) jumped out to a two-run lead on back-to-back home runs from Christian Walker and Zach Borenstein.
The 51s (44-74) stormed back from that deficit in the bottom of the frame, scoring five runs.
After Reynolds doubled to lead off the inning and Plawecki singled, Travis Taijeron put the 51s on the board, driving in both of them with his 31st double of the year.
Walks to Cody Decker and Victor Cruzado loaded the bases before Hand hit a line drive toward center fielder Evan Marzilli, which plated two more runs.
“I’ve been telling (pitching coach) Frank (Viola) to get me in the cage and let me hit some. It was good. They pitch around Cruzado and I’m able to do a little damage there,” Hand, who finished 2-for-2 at the plate, said. “It’s nice to be able to contribute as a hitter.”
Gavin Cecchini’s single up the middle drove in another run and finished the scoring in that inning.
But this time it was Reno’s turn to charge back.
Hand couldn’t hold that lead, loading the bases with two walks and a single in the top of the fifth before Borenstein hit his fourth home run in two games.
Borenstein, who went 4-for-5 Wednesday with two home runs and six RBIs, finished Thursday’s game 3-for-5 with two more home runs and five RBIs.
“If a guy can do that on a 68-mile curveball away, 92-mile fastball in and a 97-mile fastball in and he goes 2-for-3 with two doubles, the guy’s hitting well,” Hand said. “The two walks before that is what makes it harder for me because then I would never face him in that situation. That’s not the guy right now you want to face in that situation because you’ve got to pitch to him.”
Borenstein’s grand slam gave the Aces a 6-5 lead, a lead they would hold until the eighth when Las Vegas mounted its late comeback to salvage the last game in the series.
“Of course you want to win every series and just unfortunately it didn’t happen but I think the guys … are playing better. I know for a fact we’re pitching better,” manager Pedro Lopez said. “We’ve got some lapses over there where we’re not probably making the right pitch or maybe not making the right pitch in the right location but it is what it is. The main thing is for us to finish strong.”
Who: 51s at El Paso Chihuahuas
When: 6:05 p.m. today
Where: Southwest University Park
Starters: Wilfredo Boscan (4-11, 5.42 ERA) vs. Kyle Lloyd (0-3, 6.21 ERA)
■ Saturday: 51s at El Paso, 6:05 p.m.
■ Sunday: 51s at El Paso, 5:05 p.m.
■ Monday: 51s at El Paso, 6:05 p.m
■ Tuesday: 51s at Fresno, 7:05 p.m.
■ Wednesday: 51s at Fresno, 7:05 p.m.
The New York Mets called up first baseman Dominic Smith from the 51s. Smith, their 2013 first-round draft pick, is hitting .330 with 16 home runs, 76 RBIs and 151 hits in 114 games for the 51s.
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.