River Cats can’t hold off Tucson

Willie Eyre can be found under “relief pitcher” on this year’s Triple-A All-Star ballot, but the right-hander has started in his last two appearances for Sacramento. Thursday night in Tucson was a short one as he allowed six runs on eight hits through just three innings of work in the 9-7 loss.

While Eyre has started just two games for the River Cats, Tucson starter Pedro Hernandez won his first game in Triple-A.

Although Sacramento was first on the board, the River Cats found themselves down 9-4 early. A double by Josh Donaldson in the first inning brought in Eric Sogard to give them the early one-run lead. The Tucson Padres followed that run with nine of their own by the end of the fourth inning.

The River Cats threatened Tucson late with Andy LaRoche and Michael Taylor singling to start the eighth inning. With a man on first and second, Sacramento had no outs with Jai Miller at the plate, forcing a pitching change by Tucson. Miller struck out before Wes Timmons and Eric Sogard singled, inching the River Cats closer to the Tucson lead.

The late effort would not be enough as the River Cats grounded out and flew out with two runners in scoring position.

Five Tucson batters had two-hit games. including former River Cat Steve Tolleson, who left his mark on the game getting two hits, scoring twice while driving in one run.

The River Cats can’t blame their offense for the loss as they called and raised Tucson’s 14 hit total with 15 of their own. Matt Carson and Andy LaRoche stood out for Sacramento, combining for seven of those 15 hits while scoring three and driving in four. It was only Sacramento’s third Thursday loss of the season, moving them to 4-1 on the road Thursday’s and 25-10 on the road this season thus far.

Before the game, the River Cats had the best road record in all of baseball (Major Leagues to Single-A), but are now tied with the San Jose Giants (San Francisco Giants Single-A affiliate) who also have a 25-10 record on the road. The River Cats look to take that lead back as they play Tucson on Friday night with lefty Carlos Hernandez (3-2, 5.19 ERA) facing right-hander Jeremy Hefner (4-4, 4.40).

With the all-star voting coming to a close Friday, the River Cats look to add on to their Pacific Coast League leading 48-27 record before the All-Ctar break (July 10-13).

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