Jeff Bennett gave the Albuquerque Isotopes six strong innings and his teammates did just enough offensively to back him up. It all added up to give host Albuquerque a 5-4 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs on Friday night, snapping a four-game losing streak.
"It's looked bad on paper, but in all reality if you know the game, you know it hasn't been that bad," Bennett said. "We've just got to keep rolling. We're a better team than what the record shows. I think we're going to show that the rest of the season."
Bennett (4-1) gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out three batters and also hit a single and a double for the Isotopes (31-37).
"I hit a double in 2008, (so) it's been a long time," Bennett said with a smile. "It's been about six years since I've been on second base."
Justin Bour slugged a two-out, two-run homer off Bennett in the first inning to put the Zephyrs (36-32) ahead. The other run came on Mark Canha's two-out, solo homer in the third.
Bennett said he did not have good fastball command. It was the command of his curveball and slider that proved to be the difference, however.
"It's tough here in Albuquerque; I'm normally a sinker guy and here the ball sometimes it sinks, sometimes it cuts," Bennett said. "Tonight it was cutting a little out of the zone. When you don't have your fastball it's hard to pitch here. You've got to move people and fortunately the curveball was working well and even the slider."
Pedro Baez retired the first two batters in the ninth before pitching himself into trouble. He hit Derek Dietrich with a pitch, walked pinch hitter Rob Brantly and gave up an RBI single to Bour. Baez regrouped and struck out Kyle Jensen on three pitches.
"I think he just got two quick outs and then I think he just wanted to blow it by everybody," manager Damon Berryhill said. "He started losing command with over-throwing. He just fell behind hitters in that situation and ended up giving up that base hit.
"He settled down and I think he threw three straight sliders to punch him out there. It's one of those saves where you wish it was one-two-three, but he got the job done and we're happy to get the win."
Johnny Monell's two-out, two-run double to right-center in the third inning put Albuquerque ahead for good at 4-3. Carlos Triunfel had led off the inning with a single and Joc Pederson followed with a walk.
"I faced him in my first at-bat and kind of saw all of his pitches," Monell said of New Orleans starter Elih Villanueva (7-3). "I just went up there with an aggressive approach, looking for something out over the plate. He happened to hang a slider and I hit it into the gap."
Prior to that, Clint Robinson had led off the second inning with a solo home run. Alex Liddi then walked and eventually scored on Erisbel Arruebarrena's single up the middle, briefly tying the game 2-2.
The Isotopes added what proved to be the winning run in the seventh on Pederson's RBI single to left field. Trayvon Robinson had led off that inning with a single.
Colt Hynes gave Albuquerque two scoreless innings in relief of Bennett. He gave up just two hits, struck out two and did not walk a batter.
The Isotopes and Zephyrs will continue their series Saturday at 7:05 p.m. New Orleans will send rehabbing Marlins lefty Brad Hand to the mound against Albuquerque right-hander Zach Lee (5-6, 4.44 ERA).