A late rally by the Reno Aces fell short in an 8-7 loss to the Las Vegas 51s Thursday night at Aces Ballpark.
Down 8-4 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, the Aces (8-7) plated three runs to draw within 8-7. They put runners in scoring position in the ninth inning but the rally was halted by a stellar defense play by 51s third baseman Wilfredo Tovar.
With one out and runners at the corners for Mike Freeman in the bottom of the ninth, Tovar fielded a ground ball behind third base and delivered an off-balance throw to the plate to cut down Danny Worth for the second out of the inning.
Right-hander Chase Bradford slammed the door by striking out Jamie Romak with a pair of runners on base to give Las Vegas (7-8) their first win in the series.
The Aces were put in a hole from the start when the 51s scored three runs in the first inning off starter A.J. Schugel . Catcher Johnny Monell drove in the first run of the game with a base hit to right-field, and right-hander Travis Taijeron launched a two-run homer to make it 3-0.
Freeman sparked the Aces' offense with a lead-off homer to open the bottom of the first. It's the second lead-off home run this season for Reno.
Las Vegas opened a 6-1 lead in the top of the fourth only to see Reno battle back in the bottom half of the frame.
Romak opened the inning with a sharp single to left and Peter O'Brien drilled the left-field for an RBI triple to cut it to 6-2. Nick Evans delivered a run-scoring hit and scored the final run in the inning to trim the deficit to 6-4.
The 51s tacked on single runs in the fifth and seventh innings before the Aces rallied in the late innings.
Rafael Montero picked up the win for the 51s after five innings of work. Schugel was charged with his second loss in as many starts. He was charged with six runs on 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
One day after working 5 2/3 innings in Wednesday's rain-delayed game, the Aces' ‘pen was forced to throw another 5 1/3 innings Thursday.
The series finale between Las Vegas and Reno is scheduled for Friday night. Left-hander Vidal Nuño (2-0, 2.37) starts for the Aces against right-hander Noah Syndergaard (0-0, 4.70) for the 51s. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.