A Garrett Stubbs leadoff double to the wall in center in the bottom of the ninth saved the first place Fresno Grizzlies (67-51) from being no-hit on Saturday night at Chukchansi Park by five Albuquerque Isotopes (55-63); Sam Howard, Yency Almonte, Carlos Estevez, Brooks Pounders and Scott McGough. The Grizzlies' magic number for clinching a division title and playoff berth remains 17.
Albuquerque sent all nine batters to the plate in the second, taking a 4-0 lead on four hits and two walks. The RBI blows were by Jordan Patterson (3-for-4), Daniel Castro and Raimel Tapia (2-for-5), who lifted a two-run double into the right field gap.
Fresno starter Trent Thornton (8-8) lasted just an inning and two-thirds, and all four runs were earned. It was a surprising turn of events after a perfect first inning for the PCL's leader in WHIP, base runners per 9.0 IP and walks per 9.0 IP coming into Saturday's action. The right-hander struck out three, including Matt Holliday looking to end the top of the first.
The Isotopes made it 5-0 in the fifth, on a Noel Cuevas (2-for-5) RBI single. Albuquerque starter Sam Howard tossed four innings in an abbreviated start; the left-hander walked two and struck out five. It was 6-0 after a Cuevas RBI double in the seventh.
It was 7-0 Albuquerque after Holliday's RBI groundout in the eighth, part of a three-run inning punctuated by a two-run single by Mike Tauchman for a 9-0 lead. Patterson made it 10-0 in the ninth with a solo homer, his 22nd home run of the season.
McGough gave up his side's only hit on a 1-1 pitch to Stubbs, and Pounders (1-3) earned the win in relief tossing a scoreless seventh and eighth, with a walk and three strikeouts.
The series will continue with game four on Sunday, the final regular season meeting between the clubs. Probable starters are RHP Peter Lambert (2-3, 4.71) for Albuquerque and RHP Josh James (5-4, 3.38) for Fresno. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. As the Grizzlies aim to split the four-game set, they lead the season series with the Isotopes 8-7.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.