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One big inning propels Isotopes past Bees

Joc Pederson's two-run triple ignited a nine-run fifth inning to give the Isotopes a needed victory.
Joc Pederson's two-run triple ignited a nine-run fifth inning to give the Isotopes a needed victory.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Albuquerque Isotopes have been waiting a while for a monster inning. The beast finally arrived Monday night as Albuquerque scored nine runs in the fifth en route to an 11-8 victory over the visiting Salt Lake Bees.

Eight of the nine Isotopes (26-31) reached base in the frame, four of them twice. The nine runs scored on nine hits and two walks.

"That's what we need to do," manager Damon Berryhill said. "Continue to swing the bats up and down the lineup. I know it's not going to happen every day, but at some point you have to put together consistent at-bats one through nine."

Albuquerque was trailing 5-2 entering the frame when Jeremy Hazelbaker led off with a single and Miguel Rojas drew a walk. Joc Pederson, looking like his old self after missing Saturday's game with a cold and then going 0-for-3 on Sunday, smoked a triple off the center field hill, driving in both runners.

"I was just trying to be patient," said Pederson, who saw 10 straight balls before hitting the triple. "The past couple days I've played I was swinging at some bad pitches. So I kind of zoned in a little bit and waited for my pitch."

Clint Robinson followed with an RBI single to tie the game 5-5. Brooks Raley (0-3) was able to get Alex Liddi to fly out to right field, but then Trayvon Robinson doubled and Griff Erickson blooped a two-run single into shallow left field.

"Everyone's starting to find their stroke," Erickson said. "We're all starting to settle down a little bit and see the ball a little better."

The Bees (21-38) brought in Kevin Johnson at that point, but he did not fare much better. Walter Ibarra reached on an infield single and a throwing error by shortstop Shawn O'Malley enabled Erickson to score, making it 8-5.

Carlos Triunfel singled and Hazelbaker then reached on a fielder's choice. After Hazelbaker stole second base, Rojas blasted a three-run homer off the foul pole in left field to cap the onslaught.

"It was a great feeling for the whole team, getting good at-bats together," Rojas said. "We really needed it, because we've been working too hard to be in that situation. The team is going to be better offensively and then we can put some W's on the board."

Rojas finished with three runs scored and three RBI, though the home run was his only hit. It snapped a streak of five consecutive games with two hits.

"I've made a little adjustment in my batting stance," said Rojas, who in his last six games has gone 11-for-26 with nine runs, three homers and six RBI. "I'm trying to hit with my whole body instead of just my hands, including my lower half. I've been working hard with my hitting coach (Franklin Stubbs)."

Jeff Bennett (2-1) was the beneficiary of all the run support despite allowing seven runs on 14 hits and two walks in six-plus innings. The veteran right-hander had entered the game with a 1.45 ERA, but gave up three runs in the first, two in the fourth and two in the seventh.

"Jeff pitched a (heck) of a game, these guys hit some incredible pitches," Erickson said. "That we could fight back and give him a chance was awesome."

Albuquerque will go for the series win over Salt Lake on Tuesday at 12:05 p.m. The Isotopes will send right-hander Zach Lee (4-5, 4.73 ERA) up against Bees right-hander Anthony Lerew (0-1, 8.10).