Isotopes blast four third-inning homers

Team meeting sparks Albuquerque's six-game winning streak

Russ Mitchell has five home runs in his last eight games. (Albuquerque Isotopes)

By Alex Raskin / Special to MLB.com | July 21, 2010 9:30 PM

Even though the Albuquerque Isotopes were perched over .500 at the All-Star break for just the fourth time in team history, there was still a sense of disappointment. So the players called a team meeting as they returned from their hiatus.

"I just wanted to get things going in the second half," Isotopes third baseman Russ Mitchell said. "We didn't feel like we had things going in the first half."

The meeting may have done the trick.

Winners of six straight, the Isotopes hit four third-inning home runs in a 14-5 romp over the Nashville Sounds on Wednesday. Albuquerque accumulated 18 hits, including six homers, and pushed their total to 63 runs in six games.

"It was one of those things," Mitchell said. "We were getting pitches to hit. (In) Nashville, the ball usually doesn't fly, but tonight it was carrying a good bit and we were fortunate enough for those to leave the park."

With the Isotopes trailing, 1-0, in the third, Justin Sellers led off against starter Chase Wright -- ironically, the second pitcher in Major League history to yield four consecutive homers in a game -- by sending one over the left-field wall.

It was Sellers' fourth homer of the season, second in as many days and third in the last six games.

After pitcher Charlie Haeger walked, Trent Oeltjen sent Wright's next offering over the right-field wall for his third homer in five games.

Following Oeltjen's blast, Ivan De Jesus Jr. walked to bring Mitchell to the plate.

"In my first at-bat, I didn't swing, so I wanted to be aggressive," he said.

The former 15th-round pick swung at the first pitch and was rewarded with a two-run shot to right.

"He left it out over the plate," said Mitchell, who has five homers in his last eight games. "He was throwing strikes. I was trying to be aggressive and drive it out."

Two batters later, Jay Gibbons gave Albuquerque a 6-1 lead with his 16th homer. The Isotopes tied the franchise record for longballs in an inning. On April 19, 2008, Chase Lambin, John Gall, Tagg Bozied and Brett Carroll all went deep against Nashville.

The Pacific Coast League record is five homers in an inning, accomplished most recently by Sacramento on June 16, 1974 against Spokane.

Jamie Hoffmann, J.D. Closser and Sellers followed with consecutive singles to set up Haeger's two-run double to left. De Jesus added an RBI single to make it 9-1 before Wright was relieved by Donovan Hand, who got Mitchell to ground out to end the inning.

"Our confidence is up right now," Mitchell said. "It's a potent lineup, 1-9. The thing is, when the confidence is up, we're putting good swings on the ball."

Albuquerque ranks second in the Pacific Coast League with 117 home runs, five behind Las Vegas. The Isotopes rank first in runs (587), RBIs (547) and hits (1,041).

Gibbons went on to hit his 17th homer in the sixth and John Lindsey added his 15th to go with a double. Mitchell is hitting .314 with 16 homers, 25 doubles and a .922 OPS.

Haeger (2-1) allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out six over seven innings.

Alex Raskin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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