It was too little, too late for the Albuquerque Isotopes on a windy Monday night.
Visiting El Paso scored 10 runs in the first four innings off Matt Flemer and then had to hold on for a 10-7 victory.
Albuquerque (28-29) had the tying run at the plate in the ninth in the form of Jordan Patterson, but he ground out to second base to end it.
The Isotopes got 5 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings out of relievers C.C. Lee and Nelson Gonzalez, making up for a disastrous start by Matt Flemer. The right-hander allowed 10 runs, nine earned, on 10 hits and one walk in 3 2/3 innings.
“At this point it saves our bullpen, it kind of gives us a chance to recoup over this past week,” manager Glenallen Hill said. “So it was huge that we were able to use Gonzo, and he’d been wanting to pitch more all year. He did tonight and he did very well.
“C.C. Lee coming in and putting up those zeroes, it was much-needed after all those runs were scored in those long innings. It kind of affects the offense.”
The Albuquerque lineup was listless through six innings, with just one unearned run and three hits.
“Anytime that your defense is on the field for an extended period of time it definitely has an effect on the offense in terms of the first hitter is always going to be less aggressive,” Hill said. “You tend to be more selective and the starting pitcher is able to execute pitches early in the count and he has a pretty good chance of getting ahead of our hitters. Then our guys end up having defensive at-bats instead of offensive at-bats.”
The Isotopes did not have a leadoff hit until the fifth, which followed a quick inning from Lee, who retired three of the four he faced in the top of the frame.
It was not until Andre Rienzo (2-0) was gone that Albuquerque began to chip away against El Paso (27-31).
The Isotopes scored one run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly, then two in the eighth on an RBI groundout and a sac-fly. The ninth featured an RBI double by pinch hitter Daniel Castro and RBI singles by Ryan McMahon and Noel Cuevas, the latter two coming with two outs.
McMahon finished the game 3-for-4 with three runs scored.
“As I was in the bathroom washing my face, I was thinking the positive part of this game was our offense showed some life towards the end,” Hill said. “So hopefully we can use that as momentum going into (today).”
Albuquerque has not announced a starter for game two of the series versus El Paso tonight at 7:05. The Chihuahuas will send right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (4-5, 6.51 ERA) to the mound.