PCL baseball: El Paso pitchers handcuff punchless Salt Lake Bees
For the Bees, the Fourth of July was a dud.
El Paso pitchers Matt Wisler and Bobby LaFromboise scattered six hits Friday night, leading the Chihuahuas to a 5-1 victory over punchless Salt Lake.
In front of 14,497 fans at Smith's Ballpark, the Bees opened a seven-game homestand by losing for the fifth time in their last seven outings.
"We weren't able to get anything going," Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson said. "Their pitching did a good job mixing things up. We had a couple of opportunities to score a few runs but we couldn't get a big hit."
The Bees' inability to solve the Chihuahua pitching might not be a good omen.
After going the first three months of the PCL season without meeting El Paso, this game was the first of 16 between the two division rivals before the end of the season.
The Chihuahuas threatened in the top of the first but failed to score. With two on and one out, Salt Lake starter Caleb Clay struck out veteran major-leaguer Jeff Francoeur and got Chris Nelson on a ground ball.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Bees responded by taking a 1-0 lead. With two out, Luis Jimenez doubled. After Efren Navarro walked, Brennan Boesch dropped an single in front of center fielder Alex Castellanos, scoring Jimenez.
El Paso missed another chance in the third, when Reymond Fuentes led off with a single and Jonathan Galzev followed with a double. But Clay struck out Tyler Green and retired Francoeur on a short fly to left. Then, after a walk loaded the bases, he fanned Cody Decker.
In the fifth, however, El Paso broke through.
With two out, Nelson drove in two runs when he tripled off the fence in deep right center. Decker made it 3-1 when he lined a single to left, scoring Nelson.
The Chihuahuas extended their lead in the seventh. After Clay routinely retired the first two batters, Fernando Nieve replaced him on the mound.
Nieve immediately walked Francoeur and Nelson. With two on, Decker worked the count to 3-2 and lashed a fastball to right center. His double cleared the bases and bumped El Paso's advantage to 5-1.
"... [Clay's] pitch count was up there a little bit," Johnson said, "and it was an opportunity with two outs to get Nieve going a little bit an opportunity to go get a quick out. He just wasn't able to do it."
Chihuahuas 5,Bees 1
O Chris Nelson goes 2 or-3 and drives in two runs to help El Paso defeat Salt Lake.
• Chihuahua pitchers Matt Wisler and Bobby LaFromboise scatter six hits.
• Brennan Boesch goes 2 for 4 for Salt Lake, including a double and an RBI.