METAIRIE, La. - Brian Barden knocked down a sharply hit ball off the bat of Ozzie Martinez and threw out the New Orleans shortstop at first to preserve a 3-1 Round Rock Express victory over the Zephyrs in Pacific Coast League action Monday night at Zephyr Field. The Express (8-4) claimed the series three games to one with the victory, improving to four games over .500 for the first time since 2006.
Round Rock led 3-0 entering the bottom of the ninth, but New Orleans (6-6) made noise in the frame. Vinny Rottino led off the frame with a homer to straightaway center off Express reliever Yoshi Tateyama. After striking out Chris Aguila, Tateyama hit Brad Davis and struck out Mike Cervenak. Bryan Petersen followed with a single down the line in right, putting runners on the corners and bringing the potential winning run to the plate in Martinez. However, Barden corralled the ball at his feet, saving at least one run and closing the game.
Express starter Eric Hurley left the game in the bottom of the first after taking a Petersen comebacker off the right side of his head. Hurley left the game under his on strength and maintained consciousness. He suffered a contusion but was taken to East Jefferson General Hospital for precautionary measures.
Chris Mobley (1-0) entered the game and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings; he was credited with the win. Yhency Brazoban followed with 3.0 scoreless innings on three hits with three strikeouts. Zach Phillips worked the seventh and eighth innings without allowing a run.
New Orleans starter Mark McLemore, who pitched for the Express in 2006, 2007 and 2009, was saddled with the loss. McLemore (0-2) allowed three runs on five walks with one strikeout over 4.0 innings.
Round Rock scored single runs in each of the first three innings but missed opportunities to break the game open, leaving the bases loaded in the first, stranding runners at second and third in the second and stranding a runner at third in the third.
Esteban German led off the game with a single, stole second, moved to third on an Endy Chavez sacrifice bunt and scored on Brian Barden's sacrifice fly. German produced the game's second run, as well, plating Craig Gentry, who led off the second with a bunt single, on a one-out single through the left side. Luis Cruz walked to open the third and later scored on Gentry's one-out single.
German finished 3-for-4 and reached safely in 11 of 16 plate appearances in the series. Gentry was 2-for-4.
Round Rock opens a four-game series Tuesday at Oklahoma City. First pitch between the Express and RedHawks is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CDT at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. Right-hander Neil Ramirez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) starts for the Express opposite former Round Rock right-hander Sergio Perez (0-1, 2.45 ERA) for the RedHawks.