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Grizzlies grind up Isotopes once again

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Nothing seems to be going right for the Albuquerque Isotopes of late. Their struggles continued Sunday afternoon in an 11-5 loss to the visiting Fresno Grizzlies.

Fresno (15-16) has won eight in a row and clinched the four-game series. Albuquerque (15-15), meanwhile, is still searching for answers on the mound and at the plate while enduring a constant stream of roster moves to help the Dodgers.

"You'd like to be able to be consistent, but the big-league (team) needs guys to step in and have spot starts," manager Damon Berryhill said. "There's no excuse. If it's your turn to get the ball, you've got to take the opportunity and do a nice job.

"We've had a few rough days in a row where we've given up big numbers in one inning. That's tough to overcome. We've got to get better."

Spot starter Steve Smith (0-2) gave up a three-run homer to Adam Duvall in the first inning, but it was the fifth where the wheels came off. Smith had tossed five scoreless innings in his previous start against Salt Lake on April 29, but had not factored in the decision.

The Isotopes had tied the game back in the third on back-to-back RBI doubles by Tim Federowicz and Trayvon Robinson. It all came undone with one out in the fifth.

Gary Brown doubled and Joe Panik, who went 4-for-5 on the day, followed with a single. After former Isotope Tony Abreu walked to load the bases, Tyler Colvin hit a soft single to center field that drove in two runs. Duvall then stepped up and blasted his second three-run homer of the day to make it 8-3.

All told, Smith was charged with eight runs on seven hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. Justin Souza gave up one more run in the fifth on Tyler LaTorre's RBI single and then another in the sixth on Abreu's RBI double.

"Smitty, it is is kind of a spot start, a tough situation for him," Berryhill said. "He hit that chopper (in the fourth inning) and kind of ran hard down the line. Then probably about 10 pitches into that inning he ran out of gas."

Offensively, Albuquerque continued to struggle to put together a big inning. The Isotopes left five men in scoring position over the course of the game.

Joc Pederson went 3-for-4, but the whole day could probably be summed up by what happened to him in the ninth. He hit a bloop single that eluded all three Fresno outfielders, saw them kick it around, tried to advance to second but hesitated just long enough that he was ultimately thrown out.

"We're just making too many mistakes right now," Berryhill said. "Location of pitches has been kind of poor. We've made some mental mistakes that have hurt us."

The Isotopes and Grizzlies will finish the series with a matinee game Monday at 11:05 a.m. Albuquerque will activate Carlos Frias (0-1, 10.80 ERA) to start while Fresno will send lefty Mike Kickham (1-3, 3.30) to the mound.

Around the Lab

Right-hander Stephen Fife, as expected, was officially called up by the Dodgers and started against the Marlins in Miami. He allowed four runs in six innings as Los Angeles lost 5-4. ... Lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez took Fife's spot on the roster. ... Outfielder Nick Buss was claimed off waivers by the Oakland A's, who then optioned him to Sacramento. The River Cats visit Albuquerque for four games starting Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. Berryhill said Buss will be missed. "It's tough to lose Chili," Berryhill said. "He really fit in this lineup, a great team player. He played in this system his whole career. It's a tough loss for the Dodgers, but on the other hand I'm happy for Chili. I'm wishing him all the best."

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