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Lee looks sharp as Isotopes rally late in home opener

Zach Lee gave up only one run in 5.2 innings as the Isotopes rallied to beat Tacoma.
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Zach Lee did his part for the Albuquerque Isotopes. His teammates just waited a while after he left the game before rallying for a 6-3 victory over the visiting Tacoma Rainiers on Friday night.

A packed house of 11,550 fans showed up for the home opener. Those that stayed until late got to watch an impressive little comeback in the eighth inning.

"It's a big boost as far as the club goes, especially with the way we muddled through the first seven innings," Isotopes manager Damon Berryhill said. "I thought they did a good job pitching against us. That's a big comeback for us. We'll take 'em any way we can."

Albuquerque (5-3) trailed 2-1 when Carlos Triunfel and Joc Pederson hit back-to-back singles with one out. Jonathan Arias (0-1) then walked Jamie Romak to load the bases.

Tacoma (2-5) turned to lefty Nick Hill to face the left-handed-hitting Clint Robinson. The veteran first baseman worked the count full and drew the walk to force in the tying run.

"Just a ton of good at-bats through the lineup but obvioulsy the key one there was Clint, drawing the tough lefty against him," said right fielder Nick Chili Buss. "That was an awesome at-bat. He was able to spit on some tough pitches and get that walk and tie it up."

The Rainiers brought in Logan Bawcom next, only to see him walk Miguel Olivo and force in the go-ahead run. Buss, knowing Bawcom had to attack him with fastballs in that situation, then provided the final cushion by blasting a three-run triple to center field.

"You kind of have the advantage in that situation, you know he's a little uncomfortable and you can probably narrow down your zone a little bit," Buss said. "And he just happened to leave one out over the plate a little bit and I got it out there."

Early on the fans got to watch Lee live up to the hype as the Dodgers' No. 4-ranked prospect. Lee allowed just one run — a wind-aided solo home run by Ji-Man Choi in the second inning — over 5.2 innings. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out three.

A major key for Lee was his ability to get ahead in the count. That in turn enabled him to use his slider and sinking fastball to keep the ball down and keep the Rainiers confounded.

"I was real tired from the travel and all that, but it was one of those things that actually kind of helped me out a little bit," Lee said. "It just made me throw a little more down in the zone. I got a lot of ground balls today."

The game's odd moment came in the top of the third when four of the eight light towers around Isotopes Park suddenly went dark. It took 25 minutes for the lights to come back on.

"We were just hoping they'd come back on," Berryhill said. "Especially because we're a little thin in the bullpen right now. We needed Zach to give us a solid five. He eventually ended up giving us a great game. We were concerned that if (the delay) went any longer that Zach wouldn't be able to get back out there."

The Isotopes finally lifted Lee after he gave up a two-out triple to Chris Taylor in the sixth inning. Yimi Garcia came in and struck out Nick Franklin looking to strand Taylor.

Tacoma got to Garcia in the seventh as Choi singled with one out and Ty Kelly drew a two-out walk. Jesus Sucre then hit a liner to left field, scoring Choi with the go-ahead run. The 2-1 lead would not last long.

"I think with our offense and this ballpark, I don't feel like you're really ever out of a ballgame, especially a one-run game," Berryhill said. "We've got some guys who can swing the bat and I'm confident that these guys will play to the last out."

The Isotopes and Rainiers will continue their series Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

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