Stephen Fife was solid for seven innings and Tony Gwynn drove in three runs, as Albuquerque cruised past Omaha, 11-3, Friday night in the opener of a four-game set at Isotopes Park. The Storm Chasers dipped to 82-59 while the Isotopes halted a five-game slide to reduce their magic number to two and keep red-hot Oklahoma City a game and a half behind with three to play in the American Conference Southern Division pennant race.
Omaha starter Justin Marks, making his Triple-A debut, was touched for a pair of runs in the first inning after Josh Fields tripled to drive in Abreu, who had walked, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jerry Sands, who came through with his league-best 104th run batted in. The hosts blew the game open in the second on a run-scoring hit by Gwynn, a two-run single by Elian Herrera and a two-out, two-run double by Scott Van Slyke that knocked Marks out of the game and put the Storm Chasers in a 7-0 hole for a second straight day.
The 24-year-old southpaw took the loss after he was roughed up for seven hits and three walks while recording only five outs and was followed by Brandon Sisk, who saw Rey Navarro commit an error on a ground ball off the bat of the first batter he faced that allowed to more runs to score to increase the margin to nine.
The visitors got on the board in the fourth on Adam Moore’s infield single that plated Wil Myers and added another run in the sixth on a lead off long ball by Clint Robinson, who ended a 149 at-bat drought since his last home run on July 19 vs. Oklahoma City.
Roman Colon took over for Sisk, who allowed just a lonely single over 3 1/3 shutout frames, and yielded a two-run single to Gwynn in the seventh that restored the ‘Topes nine-run cushion.
Fife earned his first win in three tries against the Storm Chasers this season after allowing one earned run on six hits while walking one and striking out three. Erick Threets tossed a scoreless eighth inning before Tim Corcoran gave up a two-out RBI double to Irving Falu in the ninth to account for the final margin.
The series continues Saturday evening with Omaha left-hander Doug Davis getting the starting nod against Albuquerque right-hander Will Savage.