Oklahoma City, Okla. - The Oklahoma City RedHawks (75-64) used a familiar combination of tremendous pitching and some late clutch play to win 3-1 and complete a four-game sweep of the Albuquerque Isotopes (77-63) before 5,558 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark Thursday night.
With the win, the RedHawks have won five straight and are now 1.5 games back of first-place Albuquerque with four games remaining.
As was the case in most of the series, neither team had much success at the plate early on. With two outs in the top of the fourth, Josh Fields singled and stole second base for Albuquerque. Tim Federowicz followed with an RBI single to put the Isotopes in the lead.
Meanwhile Albuquerque starting pitcher Fernando Nieve was dealing. Through five innings he retired 15 of 17 RedHawks and struck out eight.
After striking out Brett Oberholtzer to begin the sixth, Nieve retired 11 straight. Brad Snyder broke through with a double and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Brian Bixler followed with an RBI single to tie the game.
Albuquerque's Dee Gordon led off the eighth, and Elian Herrera advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt. That signaled the end of the night for Brett Oberholtzer, who once again was terrific on the mound. Oberholtzer scattered seven singles over 7.1 innings, striking out six with no walks.
Chuckie Fick (2-1) came in and struck out Alex Castellanos. After the RedHawks intentionally walked Jerry Sands, Scott Van Slyke grounded out to end the inning.
Landon Powell drew a walk to start the bottom of the eighth. J.B. Shuck then laid down a sac bunt, but a throwing error by Federowicz put runners at second and third with none out.
Snyder then sent a two-run single to right field to give the RedHawks the lead. It was the third time in the series Snyder either drove in or scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning or later.
After allowing a single to start the ninth, Jose Valdez struck out the next three hitters to end the game and earn his 21st save.
Nieve (7-9) was dealt a tough-luck loss, allowing two earned runs and six hits over seven-plus innings. He tied a season high with nine strikeouts and walked one.
For the ninth time in the last 11 wins, the RedHawks were either tied or trailed in seventh inning.
Over the final four games, the RedHawks will host Round Rock and Albuquerque will head home to play Omaha, who has already clinched its division. Friday's game against the Express begins at 7:05 p.m. with post-game fireworks presented by Oklahoma Relay. For tickets, call (405) 218-1000, order online at okcredhawks.com, or visit the box office on S. Mickey Mantle Drive.
Live coverage begins at 6:35 p.m. on AM 1340 The Game, 1340thegame.com, or through the free IHeartRadio mobile app.