Conlon sharp as 51s blank Albuquerque, 7-0

Though the final score doesn’t reflect it, the Las Vegas 51s and Albuquerque Isotopes were tangled in a pitchers’ duel for much of Wednesday’s game.

Las Vegas starter P.J. Conlon more than did his part, throwing 6 2/3 scoreless frames as the 51s beat Albuquerque 7-0 in the series opener at Isotopes Park.

Conlon, rebounding from two straight tough outings, gave up six hits in his start, walking two and striking out three.

It was a stark contrast from his previous two starts where he went a combined 6 1/3 innings and gave up 13 earned runs.

“He pitched inside. I think that’s what he needs to do,” manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “He can use his changeup effectively and his breaking pitch. He was more aggressive with strikethrowing and he was able to command his offspeed.”

Conlon was helped out by his defense along the way, which made a number of nice plays throughout the game.

“It was one of our best games defensively,” DeFrancesco said. “We threw a runner out at home, a runner out at second. I think the guys made some great plays in the field all game.”

Bryce Brentz made a couple of them, including a throw from right field to home plate that prevented Raimel Tapia from scoring to tie up the game.

Brentz had given the 51s (6-14) a lead in the first inning, doubling in Zach Borenstein.

But the 51s did little else against Albuquerque (8-12) starter Sam Howard, who threw six innings of his own and gave up just four hits while striking out seven. The run in the first inning was the only one he gave up in his outing.

Between the second through fifth innings, he sent down 11 straight batters.

“It was kind of similar. Two left-handers with the same type of stuff,” DeFrancesco said. “They were both hitting their spots and executing offspeed and pitching inside effectively. We just weren’t getting good swings. It was hard to see early in the game. There was a big shadow across the field. Once it got dark, the guys started to hit the ball better.”

After Howard departed, the Isotopes bullpen couldn’t keep the game close. Reliever Austin House was hit hard as the 51s opened up the game in the eighth inning.

House gave up six runs on five hits in his inning of work. The 51s started with a Borenstein two-run blast, which gave them some breathing room. They piled on with an RBI single from Phillip Evans and a Ty Kelly three-run home run to put the game out of reach.

“That was one of the best innings we had so far this year,” DeFrancesco said.

The win marked Conlon’s first in Triple-A and it snapped a five-game losing streak for the 51s.

“Conlon set the tone today,” DeFrancesco said. “He was aggressive inside and he shut a pretty good hitting out here in Albuquerque almost seven innings.”

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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