Dan Houston entered his ninth start of the season Monday afternoon still searching for his first win, and teammates Angelys Nina and Kent Matthes made sure he got it. The duo contributed two home runs, three doubles, and six RBI and Houston worked five innings to record his first victory of 2013 as the Drillers defeated Northwest Arkansas 8-5 at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale.
Houston allowed five runs in his five innings, while walking three and striking out two to improve his record to 1-4.
The Drillers improved their record to 20-23 with the win, having won four of their last five.
Tulsa got the scoring started in this one, striking for two runs in the second, courtesy of Nina' home run. The second baseman followed Matthes' Texas League leading 16th double with a drive to left to give the Drillers an early lead.
Northwest Arkansas countered with four consecutive hits and three runs to start the home half of the second. With runners on the corners and no outs, big first baseman Matt Fields lined a single into left to score their first run. Rey Navarro followed with a two-run double to right to put Northwest Arkansas in front 3-2.
Fields added another run to the Naturals' total in the third, plating Orlando Calixte with a single through the middle to go up 4-2. However, the lead would be short-lived.
The Drillers tallied four runs in the fourth to turn a two-run deficit into a two-run advantage. First baseman Kiel Roling led off the inning by lining a single to left, and Kyle Parker followed with another hit to put two Drillers aboard for Matthes.
The right fielder delivered, hammering a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left-center field to put Tulsa back on top. It was his sixth homer of the season and second of the series.
Nina kept it going in the fourth for Tulsa, drawing a walk after Matthes' home run. He would come around to score two batters later when catch Jose Gonzalez dropped a one-out single into center field.
The two teams exchanged runs in the fifth. Tulsa's Kiel Roling drilled his team-leading tenth home run to give the Drillers a three-run advantage before Fields negated the run with his third RBI of the day in the bottom of the inning.
Tulsa would add one more to its total in the eighth to make it an 8-5 final. Parker doubled to right-center to begin the inning. After a strikeout, Nina collected his third hit, lining a double into the gap in right to drive in the game's final run.
The three-hit game continued a hot streak for Nina. He recorded a home run and two doubles to continue a torrid 16-game stretch in which he has raised his batting average 78 points from .244 to .322 (fourth best in the Texas League).
Matthes finished 2-4 with a homer, a double and three RBI for the Drillers.
Roling and Parker also had nice days at the plate, each collecting two hits for Tulsa.
The Drillers have an off day Tuesday before returning to ONEOK Field Wednesday to open a six-game homestand. They will open the stand with a three-game series against the Midland RockHounds, before playing three games with the Frisco RoughRiders. It will be the first time this season that the Drillers will face either team.
The newly acquired Sean Gallagher (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is expected make his second start for Tulsa in Wednesday's opener, while Erik Arnesen will make his first start for Midland. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05PM.