The Albuquerque Isotopes (46-33) scored three runs in the fifth to break a 3-3 tie and pace a 7-3 series-clinching victory over the Nashville Sounds (31-48) on Tuesday afternoon at Isotopes Park. The 'Topes now hold a game and a half lead in the PCL American Southern Division, the largest such division lead since May 28.
With the contest knotted 3-3 in the fifth, Albuquerque loaded the bases as Josh Fields and Scott Van Slyke drew back-to-back walks, followed by Jerry Sands reaching first on a misplayed ball by shortstop Jeff Bianchi. With the bases juiced, Tim Federowicz lifted a deep sac-fly to former 'Tope Jay Gibbons, plating Fields and giving the Isotopes a 4-3 edge. Brian Cavazos-Galvez then slapped an RBI single up the middle to make it 5-3, before pinch-hitter Trent Oeltjen poked an RBI single of his own that extended the lead 6-3.
Albuquerque would add a final insurance run in the seventh when Federowicz blooped a single to left and advanced all the way to third on two wild pitches from Sounds reliever Juan Perez. Matt Angle then drove in his second run of the day, grounding to second to allow Federowicz to sprint home and further the Isotopes advantage 7-3. Angle has been tearing the cover off the ball as of late, and with two hits today, has collected multiple knocks in each of his last five games.
From there, the home team's bullpen took over as relievers Cole St. Clair, Blake Johnson and Scott Rice shut down Nashville through the final three frames to preserve a 7-3 Isotopes victory.
Nashville put the first run on the scoreboard when Caleb Gindl knocked a leadoff single, took second on a sac-bunt and scored on an RBI single from Logan Schafer. Albuquerque answered in the bottom half of the frame with each of the first four batters safely reaching base. Angle, Alex Castellanos and Fields all poked singles to load the bases and set the stage for Van Slyke, who promptly ripped an RBI knock to tie the contest 1-1.
The 'Topes added a pair of runs in the fourth when Sands smacked a leadoff single and advanced to third on a double from Federowicz. Cavazos-Galvez pushed the first run of the inning across the plate with a groundout to short that made it 2-1. Becker then drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a sac-bunt from Stephen Fife, as Nashville made the play on the lead runner to throw out Federowicz at third. Angle followed with a two-out RBI single to left that plated Becker and furthered the advantage 3-1.
The Sounds wouldn't call it quits, however, and tied the game in the fifth when Schafer reached on a fielder's choice and moved to third on a single from Jordan Brown. The Isotopes decided to trade a run for an out as Federowicz gunned down Brown trying to steal second, allowing Schafer to dash home from third and make the score 3-2. Andy Gonzalez then coaxed a walk from 'Topes starter Fife (6-4), coming home on an RBI double from Jason Jaramillo to even the tally 3-3.
The Isotopes begin a three-game set against Memphis tomorrow at 6:05 PM from AutoZone Park. The contest is a battle of the aces as 'Topes right-hander John Ely (8-4, 3.34) toes the slab against Redbirds right-hander Shelby Miller (4-6, 6.00).
Albuquerque hits the road tomorrow for sets against the Memphis Redbirds and Omaha Storm Chasers. The team returns to Albuquerque on July 4 for an action-packed homestand the features fireworks, live entertainment acts and the first of two 'Topes baseball clinics. 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 at www.abqisotopes.com or www.ticketmaster.com.