The Albuquerque Isotopes have been waiting for their bats to catch fire seemingly all season. The wait was over Thursday night as the Isotopes roared out of the gates and never looked back in a 12-7 victory over the visiting Sacramento River Cats.
Alex Guerrero drove in six runs in his first three at-bats while Joc Pederson set a new single-game team record with five runs scored. Albuquerque (17-17) also took advantage of 10 walks by Sacramento (16-18), scoring 10 runs in the first three innings alone.
"We did a pretty good job driving in runs today," manager Damon Berryhill said. "We took those opportunities and came up with some big hits. It was more of an Albuquerque-type game."
Guerrero's two-run single in the first inning put the Isotopes ahead, but the River Cats answered that in the second. Michael Taylor struck out but reached second base on a throwing error by catcher Griff Erickson. Two batters later, Jose Martinez knocked him in with a single to left, and two batters after that Ryan Ortiz belted a two-run homer to right field.
Albuquerque responded with a five-run outburst in the bottom of the frame. Guerrero's two-run double to left field was the biggest hit.
"I think the last couple games we've swung the bats a lot better, a lot better approaches," Berryhill said. "But it's always nice to get those bases-loaded situations and keep coming up with those big hits. It's a plus."
The Isotopes loaded the bases again in the third, with Guerrero providing a two-run single that made it 10-4. Guerrero would later single in the fifth, but all that did was load the bases so Jamie Romak could drive in a run via a walk.
"That's a big night, any night you can put up six ribbies ... that doesn't come around too often," Berryhill said. "He came up big for us tonight in RBI situations. That's what you need to do."
Guerrero finished the game 4-for-5. Since missing three games with a sore shoulder, he has gone 7-for-13 in three games back in the lineup.
"I'm very happy," Guerrero said through translator David Longley. "My aim is to go up to the plate and make good contact. I'm just trying to help the team win. My job is to go up and drive in runs."
As for Pederson, he walked in the first inning, reached on an infield single in the second, walked again in the third and fifth innings, coming around later to score every time. Pederson belted a solo home run to left field in the sixth to set the record.
"That's getting on base," Berryhill said. "Giving your teammates opportunities to come up with big hits with you on base and score runs. He's one of the guys whose approach is getting a lot better. He's seeing a lot of pitches and taking his walks. When he gets his pitch to hit he's been doing a good job."
Pederson also had the defensive play of the night in center field. In the third inning, Pederson ran down a drive by Michael Taylor, catching the ball backhanded while horizontal in midair.
"Outstanding catch, a driven ball slicing away from him, had to lay out," Berryhill said. "That was a big play in the game. They had a rally going."
All of the scoring overshadowed a somewhat up-and-down performance by starter Zach Lee (3-3). The right-hander allowed five runs, two earned, on six hits and one walk while striking out four in six innings.
"At times he was good down in the zone and then he lost that feeling and got elevated," Berryhill said. "You just can't pitch at this level, or really any level, elevated. It's going to hurt you."
Albuquerque and Sacramento will wrap up their series Friday at 7:05 p.m. The Isotopes will send Henry Sosa (1-1, 2.25 ERA) to the mound against the River Cats' Zach Neal (1-1, 4.68).