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Sean Gilmartin’s stellar hitting trumps shaky pitching in 51s’ rout

With three hits, a sacrifice bunt and four RBIs, Thursday marked Sean Gilmartin’s best day at the plate this season.

Gilmartin used that offensive performance to help cover up what wasn’t his best day on the mound.

The left-hander gave up seven runs — six earned — in 5 1/3 innings, but picked up the win as the 51s exploded for 23 hits in a 17-7 victory over the Albuquerque Isotopes at Isotopes Park.

Second baseman Dilson Herrera opened the scoring for Las Vegas (32-27) in the first inning, sending the first pitch of the game to left field for his 10th home run of the season. Gilmartin broke it wide open two innings later, clearing the bases with a three-run double to give the 51s a 7-1 lead in the third.

“I think what impressed me the most was the fact that we hit really good with runners in scoring position. Guys came up with some big hits,” manager Wally Backman said. “Guys with runners in scoring position, (we) were 9-for-16 tonight, so that was really the whole game.”

Brandon Nimmo homered twice, giving him three in two games and five this season, and Travis Taijeron and T.J. Rivera hit one apiece.

Nimmo has been on a tear in June, starting the month 14-for-29 (.483), but the 51s will have to make do without him for the next two games as he attends his brother’s wedding.

“I keep saying it every time — this kid is improving on a daily basis from what I’ve seen last year to the start of this year to three weeks ago to now,” Backman said. “Before, he had a hard time catching up to a good fastball. Now, he has no problem catching up to a good fastball, so he’s made some huge adjustments.”

Nimmo, Herrera and Gilmartin each drove in four runs, and seven players had multiple hits.

Things weren’t all great for the 51s, though.

Shortstop Gavin Cecchini had three errors, bringing his season total to 15, a team high by nine.

“I think he’s probably thinking about it. Tomorrow I have to take him and talk to him about it,” Backman said. “He’s been working hard, I will give him credit. He’s been working hard. He’s not getting the results that he wants right now.”

Cecchini made two errors in the fourth inning — one on a routine play and one on a missed catch that would have been a double play. Two runs scored in the inning.

In the sixth, the Isotopes tacked on four more runs, cutting the 51s’ lead to 14-7.

Gilmartin (6-3) left in that inning, and Zack Thornton let both inherited runners score.

Backman said Gilmartin’s numbers was skewed by the errors, inherited runs and his failure to cover first on a play, but that his stuff was better than it had been in his past two starts.

“If everything is done the way that you want it to be done where it’s flawless, he probably only gives up two runs,” Backman said. “His line score’s not as bad as it looks, but there were some mistakes that were made by him, mental by him and a physical mistake by Gavin that cost him some runs.”

Still, as the game wore on, the Isotopes never got closer than seven runs as the 51s kept piling on.

“Really, it was all about the offense tonight,” Backman said.

Betsy Helfand can be reached at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @BetsyHelfand.

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