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Isotopes lose ugly nightcap of doubleheader

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The Albuquerque Isotopes came up just short of a doubleheader sweep Thursday night. They will have another shot at a doubleheader sweep Friday.

Stuck in the middle of a stretch where they will have played 20 games in 17 days, including four games in a 31-hour span, the host Isotopes lost 8-7 to the El Paso Chihuahuas. The two teams split their final four-game series of the season.

"We had opportunities in the second game, it's a tough loss (in) a close game," manager Damon Berryhill said. "We definitely wanted to take that last one get the series but we just couldn't come up with that one big hit when we needed it."

The second game of Thursday's doubleheader took 3 hours, 11 minutes, despite being just seven innings long. The game was tied 7-7 in the sixth inning when El Paso (46-49) struck back.

Jeff Francouer smoked a one-out double to left field off reliever Paco Rodriguez (2-3). Two batters later, former Isotope Alex Castellanos singled up the middle, scoring Francouer with what proved to be the winning run.

That erased some of the positive vibes from the victory in the opening game. Brian Cavazos-Galvez's walkoff two-run double had given the Isotopes a big lift.

"We had some momentum going into that one," Cavazos-Galvez said. "A lot of offense, a lot of back and forth; maybe if we had a couple (big hits) those last two innings we could have done it."

Albuquerque (43-52) had a chance in the seventh inning as Casio Grider roped a leadoff double to left field. Delvis Morales then failed to get down a bunt and Grider was picked off after he wandered too far off second base.

"Cas started that inning off great with the big double," Berryhill said. "He didn't get back, got too aggressive. They made a nice play on him. You just can't get too deep there."

Morales grounded out, Roger Bernadina walked and Joc Pederson struck out swinging to end the game. Jerry Sullivan earned his second save.

"It's just a tough loss, kind of a bitter loss," Berryhill said. "I thought we had a chance to kind of repeat the first game and we just didn't get it done."

Despite all the games played in a short span, Cavazos-Galvez said exhaustion was not setting in. Still, he said the players are looking forward to the upcoming Triple-A All-Star break.

"It's hard but it's our job," Cavazos-Galvez said. "I feel like the energy has not been bad, considering. We've been putting up runs. You can see it's not affecting us too much."

Spot starter Steve Smith needed 94 pitches to get through just 3.2 innings, allowing seven runs, six earned, on eight hits and four walks. Defensively, the Isotopes made three errors behind him.

"Smitty did good for us coming off four days rest," Berryhill said. "He kept us in that ballgame."

Brock Peterson went 3-for-4 with three RBI for Albuquerque, while Walter Ibarra was 3-for-4 with a run scored. Francouer finished the game 4-for-4 with two RBI for El Paso.

The Isotopes will play two games in Las Vegas on Friday and one Saturday before entering the Triple-A All-Star break. Pederson and pitching coach Glenn Dishman will represent Albuquerque in the game next Thursday in Durham, N.C.

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