The Albuquerque Isotopes were sliding toward a listless defeat Thursday afternoon. Joc Pederson changed that with one swing of the bat.
Pederson ripped a line-drive, grand slam to right field with two outs in the eighth inning, propelling Albuquerque to an improbable 8-7 victory over the visiting Fresno Grizzlies. The Isotopes took three of four in the series.
“I definitely missed out on some opportunities to help the team at the start of the game with runners on base,” said Pederson, who was 0-for-4 going into the at-bat. “So honestly I wanted to help the team win. I wanted to slow that at-bat down, get a pitch I could handle and put a good swing on it.
“So it feels good to get a nice win like that, especially on a getaway day. It makes the travel a lot better.”
Albuquerque (50-56) trailed 7-3 entering the eighth when Jamie Romak, who finished 3-for-4, doubled to center field. Mike Baxter then reached on a fielding error by shortstop Chris Dominguez.
Dan Runzler got the next two batters, only to walk pinch hitter Tim Federowicz and load the bases. Fresno (51-55) brought in closer Heath Hembree, who promptly walked Delvis Morales to force in a run.
“He put together a quality at-bat and made the pitcher come to him,” Pederson said of Morales. “I wanted to hit so I was hoping he was going to (get on base). The pitcher didn’t give him anything to hit so he took his walk. That’s how you win games, team at-bats.”
Pederson stepped up to the plate next. He lined a 1-1 pitch, a changeup that came in about mid-shin, to the grass berm in right to put the Isotopes ahead for the first time since they led 3-1 entering the fifth inning.
“They were keeping me off-balance the whole game,” Pederson said. “I was just looking for one up. I got extended on it and put it on the barrel. It worked out well.”
Pederson’s home run on Wednesday made him the first Isotope to ever have 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in the same season. He was the first Pacific Coast League player to accomplish the feat since 2009 and the first Dodgers minor-leaguer to pull it off since 2004.
“I was not aware of that (beforehand),” Pederson said. “But it’s definitely a good feeling. I just come to the field everyday ready to play and have fun with it. … It’s definitely a great accomplishment and it’s humbling that I guess I’m the first one.”
Yimi Garcia came on in the ninth and struck out Brett Krill swinging and then got Gary Brown to line out to shortstop Carlos Triunfel. Garcia struck out big-league veteran Dan Uggla looking on a full count to end the game and earn his second save.
“Yimi coming in for a save and 1-2-3 in the ninth, that was something we’ve been struggling to get the last few nights,” manager Damon Berryhill said. “Obviously that was key.”
Albuquerque held that 3-1 advantage entering the fifth when Red Patterson gave up a single to Nick Noonan. After Noonan stole second base, Guillermo Quiroz crushed a game-tying home run to left field.
Patterson retired the next two batters on groundouts before completely losing the strike zone. He walked Gary Brown and Dan Uggla on four pitches apiece, followed by surrendering a three-run homer to Juan Perez that put Fresno ahead.
“He made a couple mistakes, hung the breaking ball to Quiroz,” Berryhill said. “He just ran out of gas a little bit.”
Albuquerque will hit the road for eight games, starting with a series in Reno on Friday. The next home game will be Aug. 2 versus Tacoma.
Around the Lab
Lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez rejoined the Isotopes on Thursday. He was sent down by the Dodgers on Tuesday. To make room, catcher Griff Erickson (sprained right ankle) was placed on the disabled list.