The Aviators missed another opportunity to clinch a PCL playoff berth Saturday night, losing to 3-2 to the Tacoma Rainiers at Las Vegas Ballpark.
Their loss — coupled with El Paso’s 3-0 victory over Sacramento — means the Aviators’ lead in the Pacific Conference’s South Division is down to one game. The magic number for the Aviators (81-57) to clinch remains at two with two games left for them and the Chihauhaus (80-58).
The Aviators will try to clinch again Sunday night when they host the Rainiers at 7:05 p.m. The Chihauhaus play at Sacramento at 7:05 p.m. as well.
On Saturday, Aviators starter Grant Holmes made his Triple-A debut and gave up first inning home run to Tacoma’s Shed Long. The Aviators tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on a solo home run by catcher Dustin Garneau.
However, the Rainiers put up single runs in the sixth and eighth innings — including a game-winning solo homer by Eric Filia — as they scattered nine hits.
Mark Payton pulled the Aviators within one run in the ninth with two-out RBI double, but Cameron Rupp struck out looking with runners on second and third base to end the game.
Relief pitcher Kyle Lobstein took the the loss for the second consecutive game after pitching two-thirds of an inning and allowing an unearned run.