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Isotopes hit five home runs and still lose fourth in a row

Jeremy Hazelbaker belted a pair of solo home runs in the Isotopes' loss to Round Rock.
Jeremy Hazelbaker belted a pair of solo home runs in the Isotopes' loss to Round Rock.
Courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes, used with permission

The Albuquerque Isotopes hit five home runs on Thursday night. Unfortunately, they were all solo home runs.

Round Rock rallied for a 6-5 victory over host Albuquerque, sweeping the four-game series. Reliever Paco Rodriguez (0-1) gave up three runs while recording just one out in the eighth inning.

"I'm just disappointed because I feel like this whole series we probably gave them 10 to 11 runs that we just ended up giving them defensively and with mental mistakes," manager Damon Berryhill said. "We definitely have to get to work and clean that stuff up. As well as we've played the last couple road trips, it went out the window. We've got to get back to fundamental baseball and playing the game right."

The home run barrage by the Isotopes (30-37) started with Clint Robinson's leadoff shot to center field in the second inning. Alex Liddi made it back-to-back homers with a blast of his own to center.

After a pair of strikeouts, Jeremy Hazelbaker smashed one to center to give Albuquerque a 3-0 lead. Hazelbaker would hit his second shot, also to center, in the fifth.

Johnny Monell capped the series of solo homers with a line-drive shot to right field in the seventh. That one put the Isotopes up 5-3, but it all went awry in the eighth both on the mound and defensively.

"We basically gave them every run they got except maybe one," Berryhill said. "Just poor decision making, throwing the ball around the field, a couple of lost balls in the twilight, a ball ends up skipping by us ... making poor choices with where to go with the baseball and giving them extra bases that led to runs. It was just a poor defensive effort as far as the decision making went."

Rodriguez came in for Red Patterson and promptly walked Bryan Petersen. Rodriguez then attempted a pickoff throw, but it sailed past first baseman Robinson for an error as Petersen easily went to second base.

After Brett Nicholas flew out to center, Brent Lillibridge drew a walk. Jared Hoying then hit a bloop RBI single to left field.

Jose Dominguez came in for Rodriguez at that point, but at the outset his command was no better than his predecessor. Adam Rosales hit a bloop RBI double to right field to tie the game and Hoying then scored on a passed ball to put the Express (31-36) ahead.

"It just wasn't his night," Berryhill said of Rodriguez. "At times you're going to struggle, but you've got to pick him up as a team. We weren't able to do that."

Albuquerque loaded the bases in the ninth on two singles and a walk with two outs, but Clint Robinson grounded into a force play at third base. The Isotopes left the bases loaded in the seventh inning as well.

"We still had opportunities later in the game to come up with a big hit," Berryhill said. "I thought we chased a few pitches out of the strike zone in the ninth. If we were patient they might have ended up walking a run in."

The bullpen meltdown spoiled an otherwise good performance by Patterson, one that Berryhill called "probably his best game of the season." The right-hander allowed three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out seven in seven innings.

Albuquerque will look to snap out of its funk as New Orleans comes to town for four games starting Friday at 7:05 p.m. The Isotopes will rely on veteran right-hander Jeff Bennett (3-1, 3.23 ERA) against Zephyrs right-hander Elih Villanueva (7-2, 2.63).