The Omaha Storm Chasers continued their winning ways Thursday, shutting out the Memphis Redbirds 1-0 on a cool, blustery evening at Werner Park. Danny Duffy, winning pitcher Greg Holland (1-0) and Luis Mendoza (first save) shut down the Redbirds hitters when it mattered the most, holding Memphis to 1-for-14 hitting with men in scoring position.
Mike Moustakas quickly got the Chasers on the board in the first. After David Lough singled and Eric Hosmer walked with one out, Moustakas ripped a 1-2 offering from Lance Lynn (1-2) back through the box to score Lough from third. Lynn buckled down from there, allowing just two more Storm Chasers hits over the next seven innings. Moustakas improved his team-best hitting streak to nine games, in which he has exactly nine hits to his credit.
That lone run in the first would prove to be all the Omaha pitchers would need, though they did their best to keep things interesting. Duffy allowed seven baserunners in 4.1 innings, Holland five baserunners in 2.0 innings and Mendoza two in 2.1 innings. Ten timely strikeouts, five with runners in scoring position, held the Redbirds at bay and kept the Chasers in the lead. Duffy was removed after throwing 86 pitches, with his outing highlighted by a 1-2-3 second inning in which he struck out the side.
Omaha also came up with two stellar defensive plays. Facing his first batter with two on and one out in the seventh, Mendoza got Freddie Bynum to line out into a 4-6 double play, with second baseman Johnny Giavotella celebrating with a jumping fist pump as third base umpire Barry Larson signaled the out call at second. Earlier, shortstop Lance Zawadzki turned in a highlight reel play as he fielded what looked like a sure single behind the bag at second, pirouetted in mid-air and launched a strike to first base, nipping Aaron Luna for the out.
The Chasers (8-7), who are above .500 for the first time in 2011 and have already clinched the series victory by winning the first three contests, will send lefthander Mike Montgomery to the mound Friday in search of the sweep. Memphis (4-10) will counter with righthander Adam Ottavino, who is holding opponents to just a .159 average through 11.1 innings. First pitch for the season’s first Friday Fireworks presented by American Family Insurance is set for 7:05.