For the first five innings Thursday, the 51s were held scoreless by El Paso starter Dillon Overton.
In the next three, the 51s jumped all over Chihuahuas pitching as they beat El Paso 13-7 on Thursday night at Cashman Field.
“To come from behind in the last innings like that, that’s tough to do because the last three innings, you’re facing their best bullpen guys and the guys who are supposed to supposed to shut out the game,” Dominic Smith said. “You’re facing some tough pitchers and for us to grind it out … and come up with clutch hits, it was definitely a solid way to end the night.”
Smith led the way for the 51s, finishing the night with six runs driven in on three hits. He also scored three time.
The big first baseman has been hot lately with a 19-game hitting streak snapped earlier in this homestand.
“I’ve been tweaking some things over the last few weeks and it’s really helped me stay consistent at the plate and lay off of tough pitches,” Smith said. “I went through a stretch for about two weeks where I was chasing a lot of bad pitches and I really worked on some stuff in the cage with (hitting coach) Jack (Voigt) and it really helped me recognize those pitches, lay off those pitches, and when I do get good pitches to hit, I’m able to drive them.”
He started the 51s offense with a two-run opposite field home run in the sixth inning, cutting the El Paso lead to 3-2.
An inning later, after the Chihuahuas had scored two more runs in the top of the seventh, Las Vegas erupted for six runs — three off reliever Cesar Vargas and three off of Trevor Frank.
Gavin Cecchini’s RBI single drove in one run and Smith followed that up with two more RBIs on a single, tying the game.
Singles by Kevin Plawecki and Phillip Evans gave the 51s a three-run lead.
“I thought the guys, third time around the lineup, did a much better job getting some good pitches and doing some damage,” manager Pedro Lopez said.
Aside from Smith’s home run, Overton kept the 51s in check. He gave just those two runs in his six innings pitched, getting out of a couple jams with a pair of double plays.
“You’ve got to give credit to their pitcher,” Lopez said. “I thought he did a good job mixing his pitches. We got in good situations and (he) made good pitches, got ground balls.”
But the 51s (34-53) did plenty of damange after he left.
After the Chihuahuas (41-46) scored twice off Kyle Regnault in the eighth, but the 51s stormed back again with five more runs.
Smith hit another two-run single, Josh Rodriguez drove him in with a double and Evans singled after that, driving in Rodriguez for his fourth RBI of the night.
El Paso started the game with a run in the first and second off Las Vegas starter Tyler Pill and added another one in the sixth.
“I think he started working ahead in the count. I think that he did a good job locating his pitches,” Lopez said. “Early on, he was up in the zone and then after the second inning, I thought he did a much better job locating his pitches down in the strike zone.
Pill lasted six innings and gave up five runs while striking out six and took a no-decision.
“I felt like when he went out there, it was going to be one of those nights where he didn’t have his best game but he made adjustments and kept us in the game and the good thing about it is we got the win,” Lopez said.
Who: 51s at Albuquerque Isotopes
When: 6:05 p.m. today
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: Donovan Hand (2-3, 6.86 ERA) vs. Matt Flemer (2-6, 6.97 ERA)
Saturday: Las Vegas at Albuquerque, 6:05 p.m.
Sunday: Las Vegas at Albuquerque, 5:05 p.m.
Monday: All-Star break
Tuesday: All-Star break
Wednesday: All-Star break
Shortstop Amed Rosario is slated to miss the series in Albuquerque as he heads to Miami to play in the Futures Game on Sunday at Marlins Park.
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.