Scott Van Slyke and Rusty Ryal each hit three-run homers as the Albuquerque Isotopes rolled to an 8-0 victory over the visiting New Orleans Zephyrs on Monday afternoon.
The win avenged a tough 3-2 loss Sunday night.
“It feels good,” Van Slyke said. “I felt we were all a little frustrated (Sunday), couldn’t get any runs off their starter. We fought back and I think it was a little bit from everybody today.”
Albuquerque (62-48) temporarily moved a half-game ahead of Round Rock (61-48) atop the American Southern Division pending the Express’ night game against Memphis.
The Isotopes took three of four from the Zephyrs (53-57) in the series after the teams had gone 4-4 against each other earlier in the season.
“Three out of four, you’re not going to whine about that,” manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “The guys came out today, responded well and played a good ballgame.”
Albuquerque jumped ahead early as Dee Gordon tripled to start the first inning and scored on Alex Castellanos’ groundout. Ian Stewart then doubled with two outs in the fourth and scored on Damaso Espino’s single to right.
Van Slyke pounced on a pitch from Doug Mathis and launched his three-run shot in the fifth, the small smacking so hard off the video board in left-center that it ricocheted back onto the field.
For Van Slyke it was his 10th home run but first since early May as he spent much of the last two months with the Dodgers.
“Yeah, it had been a while,” Van Slyke said. “It felt good.”
Van Slyke then walked with two outs in the seventh and Chili Buss followed with a single to extend his hit streak to 12 games. Ryal came on as a pinch hitter and smashed a shot to the right field berm.
“The three-run fifth, the home run by Scotty, gave us some breathing room,” Bundy said. “The pinch-hit home run kind of sealed the deal.”
Jonathan Sanchez (4-1) was shaky but effective enough for the Isotopes. He scattered three hits, walked five and struck out six in five-plus innings.
“The pitching was kind of … you’re on the edge,” Bundy said. “Sanchy with five walks in five innings. Everybody going through this turn got an extra day because of (Stephen) Fife. I think that showed up a little bit with Sanchy today.
“He was pretty strong, his stuff was good but his command wasn’t there. Early on I’d describe him as effectively wild.”
Sanchez’s worst jam was in the second inning when New Orleans loaded the bases with one out. Sanchez then got Koyie Hill to pop up and struck out Doug Mathis.
Sean White bailed out Sanchez in the sixth after he gave up a leadoff single to Jake Smolinski and walked Kevin Kouzmanoff. White got a lineout to shortstop and two flyball outs to end the inning.
Another bailout moment came in the eighth after former UNM pitcher Steve Smith gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases. Smith then got Nick Green to hit into a 1-2-3 double play and Kyle Jensen to ground out to third base to end the threat.
“They had some scoring opportunities so it was nice the guys didn’t give in, kept the shutout,” Bundy said.
The Isotopes will hit the road for eight games at Sacramento and Fresno, plus an off-day, before returning Aug. 8 against Tacoma to open an eight-game homestand.