The Albuquerque Isotopes (6-8) were held hitless until the seventh inning, but grabbed a run in the ninth, in a 9-1 loss to the Iowa Cubs (9-5) Wednesday afternoon at Principal Park.
I-Cubs starter Randy Wells didn't get tagged for a hit until there were two outs in the seventh inning and the best hitter for average in the Pacific Coast League, Isotope Xavier Paul (.460 BA), stroked a ball right up the middle for a single. Along with its defense, Iowa's offense also backed up Wells, launching four home runs in the game.
Unfortunately for 'Topes starter Charlie Haeger, his first inning struggles were the only thing that kept him from having a pitching duel with Wells. In that inning, Haeger surrendered five runs with three coming from two home runs. In his first six innings, Wells had five innings where he threw 10 pitches or less.
After that shaky first, Haeger was spot on, retiring seven consecutive batters from the second to the fourth until an Andres Blanco big fly in the fourth, giving the I-Cubs a six-run advantage. Haeger (1-2) was relieved after the sixth by Nick DeBarr who pitched a scoreless seventh. Haeger finished yielding six runs on six hits including six strikeouts.
Finally in the seventh, Paul got to Wells with the single up the middle. Two batters later he struck out Dee Brown to end the threat. In all, Wells (2-0) finished the outing yielding just one hit, walking two and striking out four. Jeff Stevens was the first I-Cubs reliever in the eighth and didn't allow anymore hits that inning, keeping Albuquerque's tally at one.
Iowa extended their lead the next inning with a three-run shot, their fourth home run of the game, off reliever Henry Bonilla to cap their scoring at nine runs.
In the ninth inning, the Isotopes avoided getting one-hit for the fifth time in team history after consecutive hits by lead-off man Luis Maza and Chin-Lung Hu off Chad Fox. Paul notched his tenth RBI of the season, and the Isotopes only run of the game, when he hit a single right under second baseman Nate Spears' glove, plating Maza.
The Isotopes will look to regain the lead in the series tomorrow when southpaw Shawn Estes (0-0, 4.50 ERA) squares off against righty Jeff Samardzija (0-0, 3.75 ERA). In their last match-up on April 13, both pitchers received a no decision. Estes went four innings allowing one run on three hits and Samardzija hurled four innings yielding just two hits, no runs and had four strikeouts. The Isotopes won that game, 3-1.
Albuquerque returns home on April 30 for a homestand with the Round Rock Express, Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, that includes a hat giveaway, and the first post-game fireworks show of the season. Tickets for any Isotopes game may be purchased at the Isotopes Park Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or on-line www.albuquerquebaseball.com or www.ticketmaster.com. For more information or for a complete list of 2009 promotions visit www.albuquerquebaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.