Las Vegas and New Orleans had both been scuffling entering their four-game series.
So something had to give.
Fresh off a 1-7 homestand, the 51s started their eight-game road trip on the right note, winning 2-1 Friday at Shrine on Airline in Metairie, Louisiana.
Before the win over the Baby Cakes, the 51s had lost 13 of their past 16 games.
Las Vegas was kept quiet for most of the game, but they got timely hitting when they needed it.
New Orleans (14-27) starter Kelvin Marte didn’t allow a run in his five-inning outing, allowing just two hits — one to Gavin Cecchini and another to Amed Rosario.
The 51s (17-25) did have opportunities to score off him though, most notably leaving the bases loaded in the first inning after a single and two walks loaded them up with one out.
Travis Taijeron struck out and Josh Rodriguez lined out to left to end the inning.
“We had the bases loaded, one out and we couldn’t take advantage of it,” manager Pedro Lopez said. “We had their pitcher on the ropes. I think he was maybe two batters away from coming out of the ball game, but we let him off the hook. After that, he settled down nicely and he just kept us off balance.”
But in the seventh, with Marte out of the game, the 51s finally broke through.
Taijeron doubled with one out in the inning and Rodriguez followed that up with a two-run home run, his fourth of the year, to give the 51s a lead.
Meanwhile, the 51s got the pitching performance they needed from both starter Ricky Knapp and their bullpen.
Knapp gave up just one run in his outing, coming in the fifth on a Chad Hinshaw bloop single that drove in Nick Noonan.
Knapp went six innings, giving up five hits and striking out four. It was a good bounce-back performance after giving up six runs in each of his past two starts.
“He did a really good job pounding the strike zone,” Lopez said. “I think that he got ahead. He was able to get swings and misses on pitches out of the strike zone. He was aggressive with all pitches and it paid off for him.”
Erik Goeddel, Ben Rowen and Chasen Bradford followed Knapp, each throwing a scoreless inning in the team’s win.
“I thought that tonight was a really good game,” Lopez said. “It was well played on both ends and hopefully this could be the start of something good for us. Hopefully we can get on a winning streak here and let’s see what happens.”
Who: 51s at New Orleans Baby Cakes
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Shrine on Airline, Metairie, Louisiana.
Starters: Sean Gilmartin (0-1, 6.94 ERA), 51s, vs. Adam Conley (0-1, 6.23 ERA)
Sunday: Las Vegas at New Orleans, 11 a.m.
Monday: Las Vegas at New Orleans, 5 p.m.
Tuesday: Las Vegas at Round Rock, 5:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Las Vegas at Round Rock, 5:05 p.m.
Thursday: Las Vegas at Round Rock, 5:05 p.m.
51s pitcher Beck Wheeler was put on the disabled list Friday retroactive to Thursday, and outfielder Jayce Boyd was activated from the temporarily inactive list.
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.