ROUND ROCK, Texas - Memphis' string of strong starting pitching continued but a four-run eighth inning proved costly as Round Rock walked away with a 5-2 win at the Dell Diamond in the series opener on Saturday night.
The Redbirds were limited to just five hits in the game, all off Express starting pitcher Robbie Ross Jr. who notched the complete-game win. The left-hander improved to 4-3 by surrendering two earned runs and striking out five without issuing a walk.
Marco Gonzales matched Ross Jr. pitch for pitch before his exit in the seventh inning. The Cardinals' prospect scattered seven hits with one run and no walks. He fanned seven hitters with his 76 pitches, earning his second quality start in Triple-A.
The 'Birds added a tally to the scoreboard first, pushing a run across in the fourth. After Randal Grichuk got hit by a pitch and Scott Moore single, Stephen Piscotty followed it up with a hit that loaded the bases. After Ross Jr. got the next two batters out, he delivered a wild pitch that put Memphis on top.
Round Rock answered a few frames later in the seventh, when back-to-back doubles knotted things up and eventually forced Gonzales' exit.
The score failed to stay tie for very long when Memphis grabbed a 2-1 advantage the next half inning. Tommy Pham put together a good at-bat, singling with two away, and Grichuk followed by smashing a double to center that scored the speedy outfielder.
Again, the score did not remain the same for long as the Express would hand the Redbirds their second straight loss. A four-run inning, capped by a Brett Nicholas three-run home run, put the game out of reach and gave the home team the win in the series opener.
The loss went to Jorge Rondon and the blown save was given to Dean Kiekhefer. The pair of relievers were both charged with giving up two runs.
The series continues tomorrow with the first of two doubleheaders to come. Tyler Lyons will go up against Justin Germano in the opening game. Round Rock will send out Matt West for the second seven-inning game while Memphis has yet to name their game two starter. The festivities will start with a 4:30 pm first pitch.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.