Juan Diaz belted a two-out, two-run homer to cap a five-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning, carrying the New Orleans Zephyrs to an 8-7 win over the Omaha Storm Chasers on Saturday night at Zephyr Field.
The victory ended a four-game losing streak and kept New Orleans within 3 1/2 games of the division-leading Nashville Sounds.
Mark Canha began the comeback against Louis Coleman (2-1) with a leadoff single in the eighth that snapped an 0-for-12 skid, and Justin Bour followed with a single before Josh Rodriguez hit a one-out double to drive in both runners to cut the deficit to 7-5.
Rodriguez scored when Omaha second baseman Christian Colon dropped a pop up hit into shallow right field by Rob Brantly, which kept the inning alive for Diaz, who uncorked his 10th homer of the year over the wall in left-center field to vault the Zephyrs into the lead.
The teams had played to a 3-3 tie through seven innings, but Omaha broke through against Z's closer Arquimedes Caminero in the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Pedro Ciriaco and Colon. The Storm Chasers tacked on a Maxwell RBI single, and Paulo Orlando added a two-run single to complete the rally and head to the bottom of the eighth ahead 7-3.
Rett Varner (3-0) took over for Caminero to record the final out of the eighth, and he pitched a perfect ninth to earn the win.
The Z's first worked their way back from a 3-0 hole, as Jake Marisnick had tied the game at three in the bottom of the sixth, blasting his 10th home run of the season, a solo shot deep over the left field wall off of reliever Chris Dwyer. Marisnick became the fourth player in the Pacific Coast League this season with at least 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
Omaha jumped out to an early lead against Z's starter Elih Villanueva when Justin Maxwell reached on an infield single with one out in the second inning, and Francisco Pena followed with a home run to put the Storm Chasers on top, 2-0.
Brian Bocock ripped an RBI single up the middle later in the inning to cash in an Elih Villanueva walk to Paulo Orlando, and Omaha had a 3-0 advantage.
The Zephyrs used small ball against Omaha starter Buddy Baumann to chip away at the lead. Danny Black led off the third with a double into the left field corner, advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Diaz.
An inning later, Ed Lucas singled and got to third on a passed ball and ground out before scoring on Justin Bour's sacrifice fly.
Villanueva settled down from his second-inning jitters to retire the next 10 Storm Chasers in order, and finished with three runs and five hits allowed in six innings. Grant Dayton came in to pitch the seventh and retired the Storm Chasers in order.
The four-game series between the Zephyrs and Storm Chasers continues on Sunday at 4 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.