The 51s have spent most of the second half looking for quality starting pitching performances.
Friday, they got that from Duane Below, but this time the offense fell short as Las Vegas lost 3-1 to Round Rock at Cashman Field to close out a four-game series.
The 51s’ normally-prolific offense managed just one run off of Chi Chi Gonzalez, who lasted seven innings and gave up just five hits.
“The Gonzalez kid pitched a good game against us. You’ve got to tip your hat to the kid tonight. I thought he pitched a real good game against us,” manager Wally Backman said. “He kept our offense off-balance all night off (and) kept it to a low-scoring game at a park that can give up a lot of runs, so he did a nice job.”
Las Vegas scored its only run on a Kevin Plawecki single in the second. He drove in Eric Campbell, who had been hit by a pitch to begin the frame. Plawecki finished with two of the team’s five hits in the game.
The 51s held that lead until the fifth when Below surrendered a solo homer to Brett Nicholas. Below then gave up another solo home run in each of the next two innings — first to Matt Duffy and then to Drew Robinson.
The third home run ended his Below’s night after 6 1/3 innings pitched. Though he took the loss, Friday’s game was a step in the right direction for Below, who had given up seven runs each in his past two starts. Backman called it the best game Below had pitched in “awhile.”
“I thought Duane pitched very well. He gave us six-plus solid innings,” Backman said. “He gave our team a chance to win. We just couldn’t get any big hits.”
The 51s threatened to score after Below’s departure off their former teammate Dario Alvarez when Plawecki and Roger Bernadina reached base with two outs in the ninth.
Third baseman Matt Reynolds hit a ball deep to center field, which Backman said he thought was going out. That would have sent the 51s home with a 4-3 victory. Instead, Jared Hoying settled under it and the 51s wrapped up their eight-game homestand 2-6.
“We’ve had a lot of inconsistencies on the pitching side of it and when you do get a good pitching performance and the offense isn’t the offense that you’re used to watching every night, it’s tough,” Backman said.
Betsy Helfand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BetsyHelfand
■ Who: Las Vegas 51s at Tacoma Rainiers
■ When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
■ Where: Cheney Stadium, Tacoma, Washington
■ Starters: Tyler Pill (0-0, 1.00 ERA) vs. Sam Gaviglio (3-0, 1.99 ERA)
■ Sunday: Las Vegas at Tacoma, 1:35 p.m.
■ Monday: Las Vegas at Tacoma, 7:05 p.m.
■ Tuesday: Las Vegas at Tacoma, 7:05 p.m.
■ Wednesday: Salt Lake at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
■ Thursday: Salt Lake at Las Vegas, doubleheader, 5:05 p.m.
Before Friday’s game, the Mets recalled reliever Josh Smoker from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned reliever Josh Edgin. They also optioned infielder T.J. Rivera and utility player Ty Kelly to the 51s as Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera both returned from the disabled list.