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Late home run carries Express over 51s

The 51s will hit the 50-game mark on Saturday when they head home to play El Paso.

But no matter what happens in their next two games, it’s safe to say they aren’t where they thought they would be at this point in the season.

The 51s’ (19-29) losing streak hit four games on Thursday as they fell for the third straight night to Round Rock, this time 6-4 at Dell Diamond.

“There’s a lot of things we can improve on,” manager Pedro Lopez said. “Right now, we’re just not playing well as a whole.”

One of the biggest areas that needs improvement is hitting with men in scoring position.

The 51s went 3-for-11 in those situations on Thursday, leaving nine men on base.

“If we’re able to score more runs … the pitchers can go out there and pitch more relaxed. Unfortunately it hasn’t happened to this point,” Lopez said. “We’ve just got to make sure that we take every at-bat with a good approach and just stick with it.”

Las Vegas missed a big chance to capitalize with men in scoring position in the sixth inning on Thursday.

After center fielder Brandon Nimmo tied the game with a two-run double, Las Vegas still had men on second and third with just one out. They didn’t come away with anything else.

“We had a chance to take the lead and we just didn’t have good at-bats,” Lopez said.

Amed Rosario swung at the first pitch he saw, hitting into a fielder’s choice as Xorge Carrillo, who had been on third, was out on the play at home.

The next batter, Dominic Smith, struck out swinging.

“The approach (was) just impatient and (we) swung at pitches that we had no chances at driving,” Lopez said.

The Express (22-26) wound up taking the lead a couple innings later in the eighth when Jason Martinson took reliever Ben Rowen deep on an 0-1 pitch to left field.

Rowen followed Sean Gilmartin and Logan Taylor to the mound for the 51s.

Gilmartin tossed 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs in his start. He walked two batters, hit two and uncorked a wild pitch.

But he also struck out seven.

Lopez said while Gilmartin didn’t have his best stuff, he thought made good pitches to get himself out of jams, most notably loading the bases in the second inning on a hit batsman and two walks before retiring the next three batters.

“He was on and off with his command but I think he’s still trying to get a feel,” Lopez said. “I think he did a good job. I think he’s playing catch up with that time he missed.”

Between multiple promotions and demotions, Gilmartin barely pitched during April and Thursday was his fourth start back.

Gilmartin left in the fifth inning and after that, Logan Taylor threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings, which ultimately went for naught as the 51s fell to 7-17 in the month of May.

“There’s nothing we can do moaning and crying about it,” Lopez said. “We’ve just got to make sure the work is getting done and we’ve just got to make sure that we prepare guys to get better. That’s what we’re doing. It’s not because of lack of effort. The guys put their time in. We’ve just got to make sure that we execute the game plan on a daily basis.”

Up next

Who: Las Vegas 51s at Round Rock Express

When: 5:05 p.m.

Where: Dell Diamond

Starters: Tyler Pill (3-1, 1.96 ERA) vs. Allen Webster (3-3, 7.50 ERA)

Next five

Saturday: El Paso at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday: El Paso at Las Vegas, 12:05 p.m.

Monday: El Paso at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.

Tuesday: El Paso at Las Vegas, 12:05 p.m.

Wednesday: Off

Update

Beck Wheeler was activated from the seven-day disabled list on Thursday. Also, the Mets activated shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from the disabled list and sent catcher Kevin Plawecki back to Triple-A, where he started the season.

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

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