Javy Guerra got out of a jam in the ninth inning to pick up his fifth save and give the Albuquerque Isotopes a 4-3 victory over the Omaha Storm Chasers on Friday night.
Albuquerque (57-43) maintained its two-game lead over Round Rock (55-45), which defeated Iowa 10-4.
“We kind of grinded through this,” manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “We’ve had quite a few of these. Offense did just enough.
“You’ve got to win the tough ones, too.”
Guerra gave up a leadoff single to Irving Falu, struck out Christian Colon and then walked Anthony Seratelli. The veteran right-hander got out of trouble as he induced a groundball from Ben Broussard that turned into a 4-6-3 double play.
“It’s perfect, that’s the kind of game you really want to pitch in,” said Peter Moylan, who preceded Guerra with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. “History shows that when it’s a blowout the adrenaline isn’t pumped up like it should be. When you get into a close game like that you get a little more momentum, a little more feeling. I like those games.”
Despite the low score the game took 3 hours, 16 minutes to play.
“For a 4-3 game to take that long is pretty strange,” Moylan said. “We play long games here. That’s kind of become the norm. If we get out in two-and-a-half hours, something’s wrong.”
The Isotopes jumped on Justin Marks (4-10) early and then sputtered offensively for the remainder of the game.
Alex Castellanos slugged a leadoff home run in the second inning to right-center to put Albuquerque ahead.
Omaha (45-54) countered with Broussard’s sacrifice fly in the third inning.
Dee Gordon reached on an infield single to start the bottom of the frame, stole second and then scored on Tony Gwynn Jr.’s single to center. Rusty Ryal would later add a two-run single to make it 4-1.
Former Memphis right-hander Maikel Cleto came in for Marks and ended up throwing 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing just a harmless infield single to Gordon in the sixth inning.
The Isotopes’ only baserunners after the third came on that single, two walks (one intentional), an error and a wild pitch on a strike three count that allowed Ryal to reach in the eighth.
“He threw strikes,” Bundy said of Cleto. “We know Cleto’s got good stuff … when he throws across the plate.”
Albuquerque starter Matt Magill struggled again with his command. He was held to just 74 pitches — only 40 strikes — in four innings of work. Magill only allowed one run but he walked five and only struck out four.
“He threw like 50 (pitches) his last time out so we were only going to take him to 70 to 75,” Bundy said. “That walk column didn’t help him out any. He only gave up three hits but the five walks count.”
Red Patterson (6-3) gave up two runs in 2.2 innings of relief in which he also had command issues but it was still enough to earn the victory.
The Isotopes will change uniforms for Dukes Retro Night on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
Around the Lab
- Omaha lost its second catcher in as many nights. Adam Moore hit an RBI single in the sixth inning but had to leave the game with an apparent groin injury as he rounded first base. Catcher Brett Hayes, a former Isotope, was injured by a foul ball off his throwing hand on Thursday. X-rays on Hayes’ hand were negative.
- Guerra allowed his first hit in seven appearances since coming off the disabled list on July 4. He has a 0.87 ERA (one run in 10.1 innings) as a reliever this season.