The Isotopes, who came out swinging to start, put up an early 6-1 advantage, using three long balls over a three-inning span to jump ahead. First, Albuquerque plated three in the bottom of the second with a Michael Restovich home run that followed a John Lindsey single to left. After Lucas May worked a walk, Nick Green doubled to right to push across May for a 3-0 advantage.
After Chris Shelton put the Express on the board with a solo homer in the third, Jay Gibbons, who fell a single short of the cycle, responded in the same fashion in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot to right to make it 4-1.
Jamie Hoffmann extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a two-run bomb in the bottom of the fourth and Albuquerque held a seemingly satisfactory 6-1 lead.
Albuquerque's bullpen, which has been reliable as of late, faltered as the Express stormed back to overcome the five-run deficit while the 'Topes bats were unable to keep up, but certainly had their chances.
Round Rock finally got to starter Josh Lindblom in the fifth, batting around to cut the lead to 5-4. The Express opened the frame with three straight hits, including a two-run single from Oswaldo Navarro. After Lindblom produced two outs, Matt Kata delivered an RBI single and Jason Castro a two-run double down the left-field line to make it 5-4 and end the right-hander's outing.
Meanwhile Albuquerque couldn't capitalize in the fifth or sixth with possible insurance runs, stranding runners on third in both frames while making an out at home plate.
Round Rock took the lead off Juan Perez (1-1) with two runs in the seventh before adding two more in the eighth while the 'Topes went down in order in both frames, leaving the Express with a 9-6 edge. Round Rock would send home three more in the ninth to make it 12-6. Gibbons roped a run-scoring double in the bottom of the frame, but the deficit was too great to overcome as Albuquerque took its first loss of the series.
Albuquerque will look to get back in the win column on Sunday behind right-hander Josh Towers (1-2, 3.13) who will face Round Rock southpaw Andy Van Hekken (1-1, 1.66) in a 1:35 PM start from Isotopes Park.
The 'Topes will wrap up their short four-game series with the Express on Sunday with a pennant giveaway to the first 3,000 fans.Tickets for any Isotopes game may be purchased at the Isotopes Park Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or on-line www.albuquerquebaseball.com or www.ticketmaster.com. For more information or for a complete list of 2009 promotions visit www.albuquerquebaseball.com.