For the second consecutive game, the Oklahoma City RedHawks used a five-run inning plus an outstanding starting pitching performance to lead to victory by an identical 7-2 score over the Sacramento River Cats Sunday night at Raley Field.
The RedHawks (67-63) won their fourth straight game and have now taken five of the first six games on their current road trip. Earlier Sunday the Omaha Storm Chasers defeated the Las Vegas 51s, keeping the Storm Chasers ahead of the RedHawks by two games for first place in the American Northern Division.
RedHawks pitcher Rudy Owens matched his career high with eight innings, allowing just one run four hits. Owens (8-5) finished with one walk and three strikeouts, becoming the first RedHawks pitcher to eight wins this season.
It was the third in time in Owens' career he lasted eight innings, last accomplished May 3, 2012 with Triple-A Indianapolis at Durham. The lefty retired 20 of the last 23 batters he faced, and at one point retired 13 of 14 batters between the second and sixth innings. On three different occasions he retired at least six consecutive River Cats.
For the second straight day, the RedHawks took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Jonathan Villar led off with a single and stole second base. Villar advanced to third on a groundout by Joe Sclafani, and then scored on a RBI groundout by Jesus Guzman.
The River Cats (72-57) pulled even in the second inning with a sacrifice fly by Alden Carrithers.
It woudn't take long for the RedHawks to regain the lead. In the third Guzman ripped a RBI single with two outs to make it 2-1.
In similar fashion to Saturday night, the RedHawks took control of the game with a five-run inning. Sunday's big rally would happen much earlier in the game, though, taking place in the fourth inning. The first three scored on a bases-clearing triple by Ruben Sosa. Sclafani added a RBI single, and Guzman plated the inning's final tally with a RBI double.
The scored stayed 7-1 until the bottom of the ninth. The River Cats had four straight reach base with one out, including a bases-loaded walk by Carrithers.
With the tying run on deck, Anthony Bass replaced David Martinez on the mound. Bass coaxed a game-ending double play off the bat of Colin Walsh and earned his first save with the RedHawks.
Sacramento starting pitcher Deck McGuire was roughed up over 3.1 innings and was charged with the loss. McGuire (1-3) allowed seven runs (six earned) and eight hits, with five walks and one strikeout.
The RedHawks next meet the River Cats Monday night at 9:05 p.m.