For nine innings, 51s and the Albuquerque Isotopes traded blows Sunday.
But finally, after three ties and four lead changes, Johnny Monell’s solo home run broke a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the eighth and provided the final dagger as the 51s won 9-7 on Sunday at Cashman Field.
After Monell’s homer to left-center field, Matt den Dekker drove in an insurance run before Tim Peterson earned his third save with a dominant ninth inning.
“It was a great comeback. We had the lead early. We gave it up and then some big hits late in the game — Johnny Monell a home run to put us ahead,” manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “den Dekker had the extra run. … One of those see-saw Triple-A games, back and forth and Peterson has actually been one of our best pitchers. Gave him a chance to get another save. Came in and executed at the end there. 1-2-3, threw nine strikes.”
The 51s (15-23) had jumped ahead with three runs the inning before and looked like they had the game in hand, scoring on a two-error play by Albuquerque, a Phillip Evans sacrifice fly and a Cody Asche double.
But the Isotopes (19-19) weren’t backing down.
“It makes the game fun,” starter Drew Gagnon said of the back-and-forth nature of the game. “You never know what’s going to happen. Especially in this league, anything can happen. You can be up by 10 runs, they can come back in one inning.”
The Isotopes scored three runs in the top of the eighth — all charged to 51s pitcher Kevin McGowan. Drew Smith (3-0), who earned the victory, came in with two outs to try to stop the bleeding but surrendered a single to Josh Fuentes — which was McGowan’s run — to tie the game.
In the seventh, the Isotopes, down by two, scored twice on home runs from Mike Tauchman and Tom Murphy in the top of the seventh inning.
Albuquerque grabbed the first lead of the game in the third inning with a Raimel Tapia two-run homer.
Las Vegas chipped away at that lead, scoring on a den Dekker RBI single in the third and again in the fourth on an Asche solo home run before Evans hit his seventh home run of the year to give Las Vegas a 4-2 lead.
It was a lead that Gagnon couldn’t hold at the time, though he did wind up leaving with a lead. The righty ended up picking up a no-decision.
“I felt really good. This was probably the first time I was really in control throughout the whole way, through the whole seven innings,” Gagnon said. “…I wasn’t trying to throw hard. I was trying to hit my spots and get ground balls.”
Gagnon became the second 51s starter to last seven innings after P.J. Conlon’s outing a night before. Gagnon gave up the four runs on eight hits. He struck out three and walked none and though the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead he left with, the 51s managed to find the hit when they needed it to even up the series.
“With the game on the line, that’s the money guys and that’s the guys that are going to have the makeup to play in the big leagues,” DeFrancesco said. “The more experience they get here trying to execute it.
“Hopefully Asche’s a guy that can do it in the big leagues. It was good to see Johnny come up with a big hit and Phil Evans seems to be getting a good pitch to hit and not missing.”