In a matchup that featured two starting pitchers trying to work their way back to the majors, it ended up being an Omaha reliever who would turn in a dominating performance — just not quite dominant enough to finish the job.
Justin Marks’ 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball and 11 strikeouts in relief were enough to help the Storm Chasers claw back from an early 4-0 deficit and tie Sacramento at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth.
But Marks wasn’t able to get the final out in the ninth. Andy Parrino singled with two outs and Shane Peterson followed with a two-run homer to propel the River Cats to a 6-4 win Thursday night in front of a Werner Park crowd of 6,902.
Marks (5-12), who had appeared in 18 games this season — all starts — took the loss. His 11 strikeouts tied a game-high for an Omaha pitcher this season.
“I felt good. I was in a groove, and it seemed everything was going my way,” Marks said. “I just left that ball up on Peterson, and he got the best of me.”
Storm Chasers manager Mike Jirschele said it wasn’t a matter of leaving Marks in the game too long.
“He’s a starter, and he’s fine. He got behind, and he left a fastball up,” Jirschele said. “He came in and did an outstanding job. It was probably the best outing he’s had this year.”
Felipe Paulino, who was making his first Class AAA start of the season, went three innings for Omaha and allowed five hits and four runs.
He was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA with Kansas City last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He made two starts with Class AA Northwest Arkansas, compiling a 2.25 ERA in eight innings without a decision.
Jirschele said he had not been given any instructions from the Royals as to how long Paulino would be with the Storm Chasers.
“They haven’t said anything. In fact, he’s on his way back to Kansas City right now, and I don’t know if he’ll start again for us in five days or not,” Jirschele said.
Sacramento took advantage of a leadoff double by Michael Taylor in the second inning, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Hiroyuki Nakajima for a 1-0 advantage.
Sacramento added three more in the third inning to increase its lead to 4-0.
Paulino allowed three singles and a walk in the inning, and a two-out fielding error by third baseman Irving Falu allowed the River Cats to score two runs.
Falu, who entered the game with a 27-game on-base streak, extended it to 28 in the third inning with a single to center field.
Tom Milone was also making his Class AAA debut on the mound for Sacramento after being sent down by Oakland on Tuesday. He was 9-9 with a 4.39 ERA in 22 starts for the Athletics this season but surrendered nine hits and six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in his last outing against Texas on Aug. 2.
He left Thursday’s game in the sixth with a 4-0 lead after opening the inning by walking Ben Broussard and giving up a single to Pedro Ciriaco. Max Ramirez followed with a single off reliever Paul Smyth to load the bases.
The Storm Chasers, who entered the game as the only team in the PCL without a grand slam this year, kept that distinction. Paulo Orlando laced a two-run double down the left-field line to plate Broussard and Ciriaco and cut the Sacramento lead to 4-2.
A one-out sacrifice fly by Gorkys Hernandez scored Ramirez to make it 4-3.
Hernandez tied the game at 4-4 an inning later when his one-out single to right scored Orlando from second.
STORM TRACKING: Danny Duffy was optioned to Omaha by Kansas City Thursday while reliever Francisley Bueno’s contract was purchased by the Royals to bolster the bullpen. Duffy, who made his return to the majors from Tommy John surgery Wednesday, pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed two runs in a 5-2 win over Minnesota. Bueno will join Tim Collins to give the Kansas City bullpen two left-handers. Bueno was 3-3 with a 2.93 ERA and one save for the Storm Chasers this season. He had 47 strikeouts and allowed 20 walks in 581⁄3 innings. To make room for Bueno, the Royals put catcher Adam Moore on unconditional release waivers. ... Falu’s 28-game on-base streak is the longest by an Omaha player this season and tied for the third longest in the PCL. Despite the streak, Falu entered Thursday’s game with the same batting average (.262) as when the streak started on July 3. That’s because his 29 hits entering Thursday were the fewest by a player with a streak of 25 or more games in the PCL this season.