The scuffling Albuquerque Isotopes, losers of four in a row, met the struggling Sacramento River Cats, also losers of four in a row. Something had to give, but it was not the home team as Albuquerque rolled to an 8-4 victory over Sacramento on Tuesday night.
Both the Isotopes (16-16) and River Cats (15-17) were swept over the weekend. Albuquerque lost a quartet at home to Fresno, while Sacramento was steamrolled in El Paso.
"We were struggling," starting pitcher Red Patterson said. "Getting swept at home is never a good thing. We calmed down a little bit. We were trying to get that ball rolling a little bit tonight after those four games.
"Hitters came out swinging, they did a great job. Defense came out and did a great job. Our pitching came out and kept us in the ballgame. If we can just put a couple of those together again, I think we'll be all right."
Patterson (2-1) was solid on the mound in his return to the Isotopes' rotation. After making a spot starter for the Dodgers last Thursday, the right-hander allowed just two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three batters in six innings of work.
"I thought for the most part it was a solid outing," manager Damon Berryhill said. "I didn't think he had his real good stuff tonight, but he battled, gave us a quality outing. His command wasn't real sharp tonight, but Red is going to battle every time. He battled through some tough situations and gave us a good start."
Patterson's biggest spot of trouble was back in the first inning. He gave up a leadoff double to Alden Carrithers, a one-out RBI single to Shane Peterson and then hit Nate Freiman with a pitch. Patterson regrouped and retired the last two batters.
"It seems like the last two starts, even in the debut, that first inning is where I'm running into trouble," Patterson said. "This next start, I'm really going to try to focus on attacking right out of the gates, ready to rock and roll and maybe change the way I pitch that first inning so I can get us back in the dugout as quickly as possible."
The Albuquerque bats also came to life in a big way. Jamie Romak, who finished 3-for-3 with a walk, got things started with a leadoff home run in the second inning that tied the game 1-1.
Walter Ibarra would add a two-run homer and Alex Guerrero, back after missing three games with a sore shoulder, hammered a solo shot to the back of the left field picnic area. Those blasts made it 4-1 after three innings.
"Alex has been swinging the bat well," Berryhill said. "Offensively he's been outstanding and he's definitely getting a lot better at second base. He's getting a bit more comfortable there, especially with his footwork on double plays. It's nice to get him back in the lineup."
Guerrero singled and later scored on an error in the fifth inning. The Isotopes picked up some insurance runs off a former teammate, Fernando Nieve, in the eighth. Mike Baxter and Clint Robinson hit back-to-back RBI doubles and Romak later added an RBI single.
"That last series was just downright embarrassing," Romak said. "To put together a better night, it's not always stuff that shows up in the box score. Just play a cleaner game, just do the things you need to do to win high-level baseball games it was nice. So hopefully we'll just roll with this from here on out."
Another former Isotope, Nick Buss, went 1-for-4 with an RBI single and two strikeouts in his debut with the River Cats. He started in left field after having been claimed off waivers by the A's on Sunday. Oakland then optioned him to Triple-A.
Albuquerque and Sacramento will meet again Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. Matt Magill (2-1, 4.45 ERA) will start for the Isotopes against the River Cats' Marcus Walden (0-1, 6.23).