NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The red-hot Nashville Sounds plated a run in the bottom of the eleventh inning to hang a 6-5 defeat on the New Orleans Zephyrs on Thursday evening at Greer Stadium in the finale of a four-game series.
Nashville (15-12), which is tied for first place and has been victorious in six of the last seven games, took three of four from the Zephyrs.
The Sounds lost a four-run lead in the late innings as New Orleans rallied against the Nashville bullpen to force extras before the home team triumphed in its longest game of the year.
With the bases loaded and one out against New Orleans reliever Collin Cargill (0-1) in the bottom of the eleventh, Pete Orr grounded to second base and the Z's erased a runner at second but Orr beat the throw to first and pinch-runner Hector Gomez raced home to score the game-ending run on the play.
Left-hander Brad Mills twirled an outstanding start for Nashville, working six hitless innings while allowing one unearned run. The southpaw walked three batters and struck out six during his 93-pitch effort, lowering his ERA to 2.22 to pull among the top 10 marks in the Pacific Coast League. He was left with a no-decision for his efforts.
The Sounds got off to a quick start against New Orleans starter Bryan Evans, plating three runs in the first inning.
Pete Orr reached on a one-out fielding error and moved to second when Caleb Gindl (2-for-5) extended his longest hitting streak of the year to eight games with a single. Hunter Morris followed with an opposite-field double to left-center to plate the first run of the evening. After Gindl scored on a wild pitch, Jeremy Hermida plated Morris with a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-0 contest.
Gindl is batting .438 (14-for-32) during his eight-game streak, while Morris' two-bagger extended the slugger's own hit streak to five games, matching his season high.
Nashville tacked on a run in the second when Robinzon Diaz (2-for-4) led off with a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Logan Schafer, who went 0-for-3 with a walk in his second rehab contest for the Sounds.
The visitors jumped on the board in the third with an unearned run following a fielding error by Sounds shortstop Irving Falu, drawing within 4-1.
The Sounds upped their advantage to 5-1 in the fifth against Z's reliever James Nygren. Hermida drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Diaz single to center.
New Orleans got its first hit in the top of the seventh, a Mark Canha double off Sounds reliever Michael Blazek, and quickly pulled within a pair of runs at 5-3 when Jake Marisnick belted a two-run homer to left-center, his second big fly of the season.
The Zephyrs drew even in the eighth with a pair of two-out runs off Blazek, who gave up four runs on five hits in his two frames of work. Canha and Marisnick did the damage again for New Orleans with consecutive two-out RBI singles.
After Nygren's departure, the New Orleans bullpen shut down the Nashville offense for the next five frames behind dominant pitching of Chris Hatcher (1.0 IP), Henry Rodriguez (2.0 IP), and Chaz Roe (2.0 IP), who combined for five hitless innings.
New Orleans threatened in the top of the tenth, putting runners on the corners with one out against Kyle Heckathorn before the right-hander induced an inning-ending double play from Kyle Skipworth to escape the jam unscathed.
Heckathorn (2-1) picked up the win for the Sounds after working two innings of scoreless relief.
The Sounds continue their homestand on Friday evening with the 7:05 p.m. opener of a four-game set against the Iowa Cubs. Right-hander Jimmy Nelson (3-1, 1.97) will make the start for Nashville to face Iowa southpaw Chris Rusin (1-3, 4.76).