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Las Vegas • Back in Las Vegas, where he was a standout for UNLV, Bees first baseman Efren Navarro nearly helped rally Salt Lake to its third consecutive comeback playoff victory over the 51s on Friday night at Cashman Field.
However, his potential tying hit to right field in the ninth inning fell a few inches foul and he settled for a walk, putting runners at first and second with two outs.
Roberto Lopez then struck out looking against Cory Wade to end the Bees' 3-2 loss in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
Salt Lake leads the best-of-5 series 2-1 and can close it out at 1:05 p.m. Saturday in Las Vegas, where the 51s will send veteran right-hander Aaron Harang to the hill against Billy Buckner in a matchup of former big leaguers.
"These games are tight and exciting," said Navarro, who is 6-for-9 with two RBIs, three runs and five walks in the series. "We're still up a game, but it's baseball. You can't be too comfortable. Every game is a must win."
Navarro, who went 2-for-3, tripled and scored in the eighth, when the Bees had runners on first and third with one out. But they failed to score against Wade, who struck out John Hester and retired Drew Heid on a foul popup to third.
Tommy Field singled to lead off the ninth and took second on a sacrifice bunt before Navarro stepped to the plate and watched his fly ball down the line land in foul territory.
"I thought it had a chance. It's a game of inches," Navarro said. "He made a great pitch, a changeup down and in. I was able to make some kind of contact."
Salt Lake, which won the first two games at home in walk-off fashion, took a 1-0 lead in the third, when Matt Long and Navarro singled and Lopez blooped an RBI single to left.
Las Vegas tied it 1-1 in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Eric Campbell and scored two in the sixth to go ahead 3-1. Dustin Lawley launched a solo homer off reliever Kevin Johnson (0-1) and Ruben Tejada added an RBI single.
The Bees left 12 runners on base and went 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position.
"They're a great ballclub and we're a great ballclub," Navarro said. "We just have to forget about this one and move on to the next one."