The El Paso Chihuahuas topped the Reno Aces, 4-2, on Wednesday night at Southwest University Park in El Paso.
The bats went quiet for the Aces as they managed just five hits in their first loss of the four-game series. El Paso pitchers struck out 12 Aces batters, including seven over the final three innings.
Reno (4-3) grabbed the early lead in the top of the first inning against Chihuahuas' starter Aaron Northcraft. It started with Jamie Romak working a lead-off walk. After a fielder's choice by Danny Dorn, Nick Evans singled to put two runners on for Garrett Weber with a single to right field.
Weber came through with a run-scoring single to left, plating Dorn and giving the Aces a 1-0 lead.
It was short-lived as El Paso came back with a pair of runs in the second inning. Brett Wallace blasted a lead-off homer off Aces' starter Robbie Ray to begin the frame. Ray then issued back-to-back walks to Cody Decker and Alex Dickerson.
It came back to hurt the left-hander when Austin Hedges singled to load the bases, then Taylor Lindsay reached on an error by shortstop Danny Worth, forcing in the go-ahead run.
In the third, a single by Romak, and a double by Dorn, set the table for the middle of the order. Weber worked a walk to load the bases, and Blake Lalli tied the game at 2-2 with an RBI groundout.
The Chihuahuas came right back in the home half of the inning with another run to reclaim the lead. Rymer Liriano started the inning with a single, and later came around to score on a bases-loaded walk by Lindsay. It was the last batter for Ray, who lasted just 2 2/3 innings.
The bullpen kept the Aces in the game over the next five innings. Right-handers Tim Crabbe and Willy Paredes kept El Paso off the scoreboard, combining on 4 1/3 shutout innings.
Catcher Austin Hedges provided the Chihuahuas an insurance run in the eighth when he blasted a two-out, solo homer off reliever Derek Eitel.
Marcus Mateo slammed the door for El Paso, retiring the side in order in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Reno will attempt to win the series in the finale Thursday night in El Paso. Left-hander Justin Marks (1-0, 1.80) starts for the Aces against left-hander Robbie Erlin (0-1, 0.00) for the Chihuahuas. First pitch is scheduled for 5:35 PST.