The Round Rock Express sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring seven times and knocking Zephyrs starter Brad Hand out of the game after recording just one out, en route to a 10-6 win over New Orleans on Wednesday night at The Dell Diamond.
First-place Albuquerque dropped a third consecutive game in Oklahoma City, keeping the Zephyrs mathematically alive in the division race. The Isotopes now lead the RedHawks by 2½ games and the Zephyrs by four games with five days remaining in the season.
Julio Borbon legged out an infield single to lead off the first, and after a single by Yangervis Solarte, Chase Lambin booted a potential double play grounder, opening the door to a huge inning.
A wild pitch by Hand scored Borbon with the first run. Ryan Spilborghs lofted a sacrifice fly for the first out, but Matt Kata drove in a run with a single to right, Michael Bianucci doubled home another run, and Alberto Gonzalez plated a pair with a ground rule double.
Borbon's second hit of the inning scored Gonzalez, and ended Hand's night, marking the shortest start by a Zephyrs starting pitcher since Adam Bostick faced just three batters before being ejected from the April 30, 2008 game at Tacoma.
The Zephyrs dented the board in the second, as Scott Cousins led off with a single and went to third on a double by Shawn Bowman, then scored on a grounder by Lambin. Gil Velazquez blooped a two-out single into shallow center field, slicing Round Rock's lead to 7-2.
Butler's sacrifice fly in the third got a run back for the Express. New Orleans loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but failed to score when Chris Coghlan flied out to shallow right, and Chase Lambin popped out to second to end the threat.
The Zephyrs got back into the game in the seventh, getting an RBI single from Scott Cousins, and a three-run homer from Bowman to close to within 8-6. The Z's put the tying run in scoring position with two out before Round Rock reliever Joe Ortiz retired Jeff Dominguez on a grounder for the final out.
Round Rock answered in the top of the eighth, as Martin singled up the middle, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by Hayes, and scored on a fly out by Butler.
Gonzalez led off the ninth with a solo home run off Gary Glover, extending the lead to 10-6.
Hand (11-7) took the loss, getting charged with seven runs - six earned - with two walks.
Chad Bell (5-4) worked five innings, yielding two runs on six hits, to pick up the win for Round Rock.
The Zephyrs attempt to salvage the finale of the four-game series in Round Rock on Thursday at 7:05 p.m., with Elih Villanueva starting for New Orleans, and Justin Grimm for Round Rock.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.