Redbirds keep rolling toward division lead
MEMPHIS, Tenn–The Memphis Redbirds rode clutch hitting in a 6-3 win over the division-rival New Orleans Zephyrs in the finale of a five-game series on Monday night at AutoZone Park.
The Redbirds took four of five from New Orleans in the series, outscoring the Zephyrs by a 47-14 margin. Memphis improves to a season-best seven games above .500 (65-58) and picks up a half game on first place Nashville, which rained out on Monday evening.
Catcher Ed Easley recorded his second straight multi-hit, multi-RBI game, going 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. Second baseman Greg Garcia also added two hits and scored a pair of runs.
Randal Grichuk’s team-leading 22ndhomer of the season gave the Redbirds a 1-0 lead in the first inning, an opposite-field shot over the wall in right center. Ten of Grichuk’s home runs have been hit in the first inning this season. Grichuk’s 22 bombs also move him into a tie with Jamie Romak (2013) for 11th place on the Redbirds single-season record list.
Pete Kozma’s two-out single scored Garcia to give Memphis a 2-0 advantage in the next inning.
New Orleans tied the contest at 2-2 with two runs in the top of the sixth inning as John Gast allowed the first two base runners of the frame to reach. After a Danny Black RBI single to right, Kike Hernandez skied a game-tying sacrifice fly to right.
Memphis went back ahead at 4-2 in the sixth thanks to three consecutive two-out hits, highlighted by an Easley two-run single.
The Zephyrs got an unearned run back in the next frame as Austin Wates singled and came home on a two-out Rob Brantly single. Memphis committed a throwing error that would have potentially ended the inning before the Brantly hit.
Memphis tacked on two insurance runs with the bases loaded in the eighth, beginning with Garcia’s dribbler up the middle. Pinch hitter Mike O’Neill concluded the evening with an infield RBI hit.
Gast gave up two runs on five hits over five innings. The left-hander also walked two and struck out four. Dean Kiekhefer allowed one unearned run and picked up the win. Jorge Rondon pitched a perfect ninth to notch his sixth save.