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Strong pitching carries Isotopes to third straight victory

Miguel Olivo drove in the winning run in the seventh inning as the Isotopes edged El Paso.
Miguel Olivo drove in the winning run in the seventh inning as the Isotopes edged El Paso.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Henry Sosa battled his way through six shutout innings while the lineup did just enough to support him. Add it all up and the Albuquerque Isotopes pulled off a 2-1 victory over the visiting El Paso Chihuahuas on Thursday night.

Sosa (2-0) danced his way in and out of trouble all night. His only 1-2-3 inning was the fifth.

"He wasn't real sharp until he needed to be," manager Damon Berryhill said. "He had four of the six where he was in trouble, but he was able to come up with some quality pitches and get out of trouble.

"That's really what you look for. He might not have his best stuff for that day but he made pitches when he had to make them."

All told, El Paso (6-8) left nine men on base against Sosa. The right-hander was charged with eight hits, one walk and one hit batsman. He did strike out three batters.

"He would get that last out to ground out or pop up with his slider," catcher Miguel Olivo said. "That was the pitch that worked for him today."

Albuquerque's hitters did not fare much better against a pair of Chihuahuas pitchers. Spot starter Matt Branham tossed three scoreless innings and Jorge Reyes followed with two more.

Blaine Boyer then came on to pitch a scoreless sixth, but he ran into trouble in the seventh. Mike Baxter greeted him with a leadoff home run to put the Isotopes (8-6) ahead.

Two batters later, Joc Pederson singled off second baseman Brooks Conrad. Clint Robinson singled up the middle and Olivo followed with an RBI single to left field to make it 2-0. That hit made up for an earlier double that just missed being a home run by inches, Olivo said.

"I thought I got it, too, but I needed a little help with the wind," he said. "But the RBI single, I liked that better. In that situation in the seventh inning we needed that RBI."

Hector Ambriz came in and walked Alex Guerrero to load the bases, but Albuquerque could not capitalize. Carlos Triunfel grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the scoring threat.

El Paso finally got on the board when former Isotope Alex Castellanos blasted a solo home run off Yimi Garcia (3-0) in the eighth inning. Colt Hynes then came in and retired the next two batters to end the frame.

"We've had an opportunity to get guys in for clean innings, keep them fresh, not over-tax them," Berryhill said of his relievers. "The last couple days we've had some quality starts and it's helped our bullpen."

Jose Dominguez retired the side in order in the ninth inning. It was Dominguez's first save after he had given up two runs in his previous inning of work for Albuquerque.

"Jose pitched well, got his first save of the season," Berryhill said. "He was fired up to get out there in that situation."

The Isotopes will go for the series sweep of the Chihuahuas on Friday at 7:05 p.m.

Around the Lab

After four days without a transaction, the Isotopes had to make one Thursday. Left-hander Paco Rodriguez, sent down by the Dodgers on Tuesday, finally arrived and joined the Albuquerque bullpen. To make room, fellow southpaw reliever Daniel Moskos was placed on the disabled list with a strained left calf. ... Moriarty High School alum Kyle Blanks may have gone 0-for-3 in the game, but during batting practice he blasted a home run off the Isotopes sign atop their scoreboard, some 70 feet off the ground below and probably 400 feet from home plate. ... This was only the 11th game in Isotopes Park history where the teams combined to score three runs or less.