SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake had its chances. The ballgame was well within grasp. And according to manager Keith Johnson, it was a handful of failed opportunities that cost them the game.
Tucson defeated the Bees, 3-1, handing them their fourth consecutive loss as they swept the series. The Bees have now been swept a total of five times this year. Though Johnson was not completely displeased with the efforts, he was not happy with the trail of contributing defensive mistakes.
"Tonight we played a good game," he said. "They played a good game as well. We had some opportunities that we didn't capitalize on and made some defensive mistakes that definitely cost us runs, and you can't do that, regardless of a team's record."
Despite the loss, the progression reflected on the scoreboard was better than the first three games of the series. Neither team was able to score through the first four innings, and when the Padres finally broke the silence, it was with one lone run.
The Bees were quick to equalize in the bottom of the sixth when Peter Bourjos tripled on a ground ball and put himself in scoring position.
Andrew Romine sent him home on a ground-ball single.
As Johnson noted, however, the Bees would surrender a run on a defensive mistake in the top of the seventh.
The slip-up would be followed by several redeeming chances — including a crack to the fence by designated hitter Cory Aldridge, and a few well-placed hits in the ninth by Efren Navarro and Doug Deeds — but Tucson would round the bases once more in the ninth before striking out Aldridge and Hank Conger (the last two Salt Lake at-bats).
Greg Smith put together a solid performance on the mound, throwing 74 strikes and finishing out the season with six strong innings.
"Smith did a great job for us tonight," Johnson said. "Probably his last start of the year. He has been great for us all year. He's in the top 10 in ERA for a reason."
The Bees kick off their final series Friday against Sacramento.
Keith Johnson's take: "There are some guys that are trying to finish off good years. There are guys that are in that inbetween area where it has been an OK year to a good year, you know, or a year that has been bad all year. But they can finish off strong. … That's the goal, and obviously to get as many of these guys to the big leagues as we can."
Up next: Friday vs. Sacramento, 7 p.m. RHP Barry Enright (12-7, 5.01) vs TBA