The Albuquerque Isotopes had to call upon a spot starter Sunday night. Nick Struck probably wished they had left him with Double-A Chattanooga.
Struck and the Isotopes were bulldozed 8-4 by the visiting Reno Aces. Albuquerque (37-46) had to rely on Struck because scheduled starter Red Patterson was held back by orders from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"They just wanted to hold Red back for some situations that are going on in the big leagues," manager Damon Berryhill said. "Red is scheduled to pitch on (Tuesday)."
Alfredo Marte did much of the damage against Struck. He blasted a two-run homer in the first inning to put Reno (46-38) ahead for good and then added another two-run homer in the fifth.
Struck (0-1) was charged with six runs, five earned, on 12 hits over six innings. He did not walk a batter but had just two strikeouts.
"Struckie didn't do a horrible job but we didn't help him out defensively," Berryhill said. "We've got to be able to overcome a four- or five-run lead in this league, especially at this ballpark."
While Struck had his struggles on the mound, the Isotopes' bats were largely silent yet again. They did at least avoid being shut out for the second straight game.
"It was one of those games where we made some mistakes which ended up costing us some runs," Berryhill said. "Offensively we still kind of struggled today. We didn't get anything going."
Mike Baxter doubled with one out in the third inning and later came around to score on Johnny Monell's RBI single through the left side. Monell snapped an 0-for-26 slump with the hit.
Jeremy Hazelbaker, who went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts in Thursday's 6-3 loss in 14 innings, rebounded Sunday. He drew a walk in the second, singled in the fourth, blasted a two-run homer in the sixth and bunted for a single in the eighth.
"Jeremy, he swung the bat well tonight, no question," Berryhill said. "He's capable of putting up big nights and swinging the bat well. Hopefully this turns the corner for him and gets him back on a hot streak."
Jamie Romak, in his first game back since being outrighted off the Dodgers' 40-man roster, was 0-for-3 until he smoked an RBI double to center field in the seventh inning. That only pulled the Isotopes within 8-4, however.
"Hopefully with Jamie back we can get him going a little bit," Berryhill said. "He'll add some punch in the lineup."
As for Albuquerque's injured players, Berryhill said the outlook is positive for center fielder Joc Pederson (separated right shoulder) and second baseman Alex Guerrero (lacerated left ear). Both players could be back sooner than expected.
"Well, Joc's going to go down to Arizona for this road trip and ... where can really hit the rehab and get multiple treatments," Berryhill said. "He should be back in four days. Every day he has been making progress and feeling better. We don't anticipate it being a real extended period of time, hopefully back in four to six days.
"Alex is in Arizona now doing baseball activities. Hopefully he can get back into shape. We're looking at right around the All-Star break (July 14-16), somewhere around there, maybe after the All-Star break."
The Isotopes will hit the road Monday for a four-game series down the freeway in El Paso. Lefty Jason Lane will start for the Chihuahuas, while Albuquerque's starter will be right-hander Zach Lee (6-8, 4.86 ERA).
Around the Lab
Romak took the roster spot of infielder Carlos Triunfel, who was recalled by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday. Triunfel replaced infielder Justin Turner, who was put on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. ... To make room for Struck, right-hander Carlos Frias was transferred to the Double-A Chattanooga roster. ... Left-hander Scott Elbert will reportedly pitch for the Isotopes on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of his ongoing rehab assignment. Elbert is working his way back from Tommy John surgery.