The New Orleans Zephyrs pounded out 13 hits, including a pair of home runs, and overwhelmed the Nashville Sounds, 9-5 on Friday night at Zephyr Field.
The Zephyrs jumped on Nashville starter Aaron Laffey for three runs on five hits in the first inning. Chris Valaika lined a single up the middle with one out, and Jake Smolinski ripped a two-run homer over the left field fence. Three consecutive singles, capped by Nick Green's liner to center, gave the Z's a 3-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Sounds came back to score four times in the second inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs, and Blake Davis hit a grounder to third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who stumbled while attempting to make a throw home, allowing a pair of runs to score on the error.
After Laffey fanned for the first out of the inning, Scooter Gennett drove in a run with a ground out to first, and Kentrail Davis singled in the go-ahead run with a line drive to right.
Gorkys Hernandez led off the bottom of the frame with a triple over the head of center fielder Josh Prince, and scored on Valaika's sacrifice fly to knot the score at 4-4.
The Z's took the lead for good in the fourth, scoring twice without the benefit of a hit. Hernandez was hit by a pitch with one out, Valaika reached on a fielding error, and a walk to Smolinski loaded the bases.
Kouzmanoff, in his first game since being activated from a month-long stint on the disabled list, hit a sacrifice fly to score Hernandez, and the throw from Prince in center field sailed over the head of catcher Blake Lalli, hit home plate umpire Chris Segal in the head, and bounced out of play to allow a second run to score.
Nick Green hit a towering home run to left field with one out in the fifth, extending the Zephyrs' lead to 7-4. Green paced the Zephyrs' offense with three hits, and Smolinski reached base four times on a home run, single and two walks.
Nashville got a run back in the seventh, courtesy of a two-out RBI single by Robinzon Diaz, but t
he Zephyrs added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with no outs
. Nashville reliever Jesus Sanchez got Koyie Hill to fly out and fanned pinch-hitter Jordan Brown, but Hernandez ripped a single to right field to score two.
Doug Mathis, who entered the game with the best home ERA of any qualified starting pitcher in the Pacific Coast League, yielded only one earned run in six innings to earn the win. Mathis (5-7) allowed four hits, struck out seven and walked three, and was charged with three unearned runs in Nashville's four-run rally in the second inning.
Laffey (4-4) also struck out seven and walked three, but gave up six runs - four earned - and six hits in four innings.
With the win, the Zephyrs even their record at 50-50, and on Saturday will be in search of an eighth victory in their last 10 games in the third meeting of the weekend series with Nashville. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.