Doug Mathis tossed seven scoreless innings and Jake Smolinski drove in three runs to lead New Orleans to a 5-1 victory over Omaha Sunday afternoon at Zephyr Field. The Storm Chasers dropped their third straight contest to fall to 23-26 and temporarily four games behind front-running Memphis, which plays tonight, in the American Conference North Division. Omaha has not been three games under the .500 mark since starting the season with three consecutive defeats.
Zach Phillips opened the ninth inning on the hill for the Zephyrs with a five-run lead but did not retire a batter. Xavier Nady and Anthony Seratelli singled before Chad Tracy walked to load the bases. Mitch Canham drew a walk to force in a run and end the left-hander’s day after he had allowed his first run of the month. Jonathan Albaladejo entered and squashed the comeback attempt by striking out Willy Taveras and pinch-hitter Max Ramirez and getting Irving Falu to fly out to end the game to record his second save of the series.
The Z’s got on the board with three runs in the third against Justin Marks, who was coming off a seven-inning performance last time out on Tuesday against Tucson. Paul Gran opened the frame with a double and scored on a one-out single by Gorkys Hernandez, who drove in the game-winning runs on Friday night. Another single and a hit batter filled the bases for Bryan Petersen, who walked to force in a run. Smolinski completed the rally with a sacrifice fly to plate Kevin Kouzmanoff, who played in 56 games for Omaha last season.
Smolinski delivered a two-out, two-run double in the fifth that extended the hosts advantage to 5-0. Marks lasted five frames and took the loss after allowing those five runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out four. Atahualpa Severino followed with two shutout innings in front of George Sherrill, who struck out all three hitters he faced in the eighth.
Mathis yielded only two hits, a one-out single by Taveras in the fifth and a pinch-hit single by Canham, in his first at-bat with Omaha, in the seventh, en route to grabbing his second win of the season. He walked four, struck out five and allowed only one runner to reach third base.
The series wraps up Monday afternoon with Omaha left-hander Will Smith making the start against NOLA right-hander A.J. Battisto. Coverage of the game gets underway at 12:40 pm