The last time the Albuquerque Isotopes ventured into Werner Park, third baseman Russ Mitchell hit a two-run home run to beat the Storm Chasers by two runs, a 2-0 victory on July 3rd. Twenty-three days later, Mitchell delivered a repeat performance, blasting a two-run, go-ahead home run in the Isotopes’ 6-4 victory Tuesday night.
The ninth-inning long ball spoiled what was shaping up to be a fine performance by the Omaha bullpen, which was called upon in the fifth to replace ineffective starting pitcher Mike Montgomery. Righthander Zach Miner held Albuquerque scoreless over the next four innings, giving the Storm Chasers an opportunity to get back in the game and have a chance at victory.
Montgomery, making his 20th start of the season, allowed four runs on seven hits over four innings pitched, walking four and striking out three. He needed 93 pitches to get his first 10 outs, with the final two coming on a hard smash with the bases loaded that the Omaha defense turned into a 5-4-3, inning-ending double play with the Chasers trailing 4-1.
Jarrod Dyson trimmed the deficit to 4-3 with a two-run single down the leftfield line in the fourth, and an inning later David Lough tripled and scored on a Lorenzo Cain single to tie the game at 4-4. Miner held the Isotopes in check until the ninth, giving way to Everett Teaford (3-2), who walked the leadoff batter before Mitchell’s tape-measure drive to left with one out.
Travis Schlichting (5-3) pitched a scoreless eighth and earned the win, with Jon Link slamming the door for his 10th save. Randy Keisler started for the Isotopes, allowing four runs – two earned – in seven innings. The 35-year-old lefthander allowed eight hits, walked one and struck out two.
The loss, their third in a row, dropped the Chasers (55-48) to three games ahead of Memphis (52-51) in the American Conference Northern Division. Meanwhile, Albuquerque (55-49) crept within five of Round Rock (60-44) – who lost to Memphis – in the Southern Division. Omaha also fell to just 21-28 in games decided by two runs or less, a far cry from their 34-20 record in games decided by three or more runs.
The Chasers and ‘Topes will continue their four-game series Wednesday night when righthander Jeff Suppan (9-5, 4.60) takes on righthander John Ely (6-4, 5.52). Suppan has won two consecutive starts while Ely has won three of his last four outings. With the help of Mitchell, Ely defeated Suppan in the 2-0 ballgame July 3rd at Werner Park. First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.