Zach Jackson did more than his best to keep the Express rolling Wednesday night. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
The left-hander, a first-round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2004 Draft, ended up allowing three runs on four hits over 8 1/3 frames as Triple-A Round Rock topped host Oklahoma City, 5-3, for its fifth straight victory and ninth win in 10 games. He walked three and struck out five.
"I was mixing it up a lot," Jackson said. "My two-seamer was working well, plus a changeup and a sweeping breaking ball to the lefties."
After issuing a walk to his second batter of the game, the 27-year-old Texas A&M product retired the next 13 RedHawks before walking J.B. Shuck with two outs in the fifth. Jackson walked another batter in the seventh, but quickly ended the Oklahoma City threat by inducing a double play from Drew Locke.
Up after seven innings, 2-0, Round Rock brought eight batters to the plate and scored three insurance runs with the help of three RedHawks errors in the eighth. After a lengthy inning, Jackson came out for the home half of the frame and gave up a double to switch-hitting catcher Carlos Corporan on his first pitch.
Jackson wasn't sure whether the long down time between innings played a role in losing the no-hitter.
"I can sit back now and say that it did -- you like to maintain your rhythm -- but it was a good pitch that he hit," he said. "A sinker down and away, and he hit it about three feet inside the foul line in right. Stuff like that just happens sometimes.
"Anyway, you can't really complain when your team is out there scoring runs," he added. "It's a good problem to have."
Corporan moved to third on an Anderson Hernandez single and scored on a sacrifice fly to break up Jackson's shutout. The 6-foot-5 Rangers farmhand returned for the ninth, but exited after allowing a pair of singles. Both runners later scored.
Veteran leadoff man Esteban German went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored to lead the Express attack. The second baseman is 10-for-17 over his last four games. First baseman Chad Tracy doubled, singled and drove in a pair of runs.
Jackson (2-0) threw 110 pitches, 66 for strikes. Reliever Cody Eppley allowed one hit in two-thirds of an inning to notch his third save.
Oklahoma City's Ryan Rowland-Smith fell to 0-1 after allowing two runs on five hits over five frames. The Australian southpaw struck out two and walked one.
After winning nine of 10 games, the Express hold an early 1 1/2-game lead over Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League American South Division.