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Stephen Cardullo powers Isotopes to another victory

Playing first base for the first time, he blasts a key home run as Albuquerque makes it 13 wins in 15 games

While playing first base for the first time, Stephen Cardullo swatted a two-run homer in the Isotopes' win over the Grizzlies.
While playing first base for the first time, Stephen Cardullo swatted a two-run homer in the Isotopes' win over the Grizzlies.
Tim March for Moji

Stephen Cardullo played a new position.

The Albuquerque Isotopes still got a familiar result.

Albuquerque held on for a 4-3 victory over the visiting Fresno Grizzlies on Sunday night in a game that featured a 1-hour, 34-minute rain delay in the middle of the contest.

Cardullo, playing first base for the first time in affiliated baseball, went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in the first inning. His previous 90 defensive appearances this year were split between left field (79) and right (11).

"I was just happy to be in the lineup," Cardullo said. "It was fun playing there."

In many ways, the high-energy Cardullo was a perfect fit for first base. He looked good on a number of solid plays in the field.

"When does Cardullo not look good?" manager Glenallen Hill said. "If you watch him play, he’s into every pitch and he thinks that he’s a first baseman, so he acts like a first baseman and expects to make plays like a first baseman. I’m not surprised."

Baseball Reference lists Cardullo with one career game at first back when he played for the Rockland Boulders of the independent Can-Am League in 2013.

"I played first base a couple years ago in independent ball and I played a little bit in college (at Florida State)," Cardullo said. "It was fun to get out there. I was out there to give Jordan (Patterson) a day off and help the team."

Cardullo’s homer, plus a two-run shot by Rafael Ynoa in the second inning, staked the Isotopes (61-66) to a 4-1 lead.

Shane Carle (5-8) and a parade of relievers kept the game at that margin until the ninth, when the Grizzlies (67-61) did get a couple runs. Simon Castro rebounded from that brief misstep, getting Nolan Fontana to ground out to second base to end the game.

Carle was sharp in a spot start for Christian Bergman. The right-hander allowed just one run on three hits and one walk while striking out eight in five innings. Carle threw 51 of 70 pitches for strikes.

"Shane has been throwing the ball well for a while," Hill said. "He’s seemed to have fallen into his groove. He knows what he’s doing, his expectations of what he’s doing is there. He’s executing his pitches as we’ve wanted him to do all year. He’s getting rewarded for it."

Patrick McCoy, Justin Miller and Sam Moll combined for three scoreless innings.

The Isotopes, who have won 13 of 15, remained 6.5 games behind first-place El Paso, a 2-1 winner over Salt Lake. There are 16 games left in the Pacific Coast League season.