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Chihuahuas overcome rough start, beat Omaha

First baseman Tommy Medica is greated by pitcher Marcos Mateo after his three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.

The El Paso Chihuahuas got their first win in the month of June beating Omaha by a score of 7-4 tonight at Southwest University Park. Starting pitcher Jason Lane recovered from a tough first inning to pitch into the ninth inning and start off the four-game series against the Storm Chasers with a win.

“Lane was magnificent,” said Chihuahuas’ manager Pat Murphy. “You got to credit our defense, it’s the best our defense has played.”

Lane, 3-4 on the season coming into tonight, gave up a couple of singles, a double and a home run, all in the first inning, that would put El Paso in a three-run hole before they even got to the plate. The 38-year-old left-hander responded nicely after his first-inning struggles, allowing just six hits and one run in his following seven-and-two-thirds innings of work.

“It was really frustrating (the first inning),” Lane said. “At that point, told myself I was gonna do everything I could to stay in this game and get us back in it…and then I got in a grove and guys made some great plays behind me.”

The El Paso bullpen was desolate all night and it was only until the ninth inning that there was some activity. It seemed like the Chihuahuas would not need the services of a reliever for the first time this season, but with two outs and a 7-3 lead in the top of the ninth Lane gave up a triple that would bring Omaha a run closer to tying the game.

That was the end of Lane’s night.

“He wanted to stay in but the right thing to do was to get him out of there,” Murphy said. “After having a stressful first and then pitch in eight more frames is unusual so I knew he had a lot of stress on him…I knew it was time.”

It is the longest start for a Chihuahuas’ pitcher this season, but Lane would have liked to make it one out longer.

“Kind of frustrating not being able to finish it off with two outs and nobody on,” Lane said.

Jay Jackson came in for the save, striking out the only batter he faced on the night.

It was not the most impressive performance for the offense, getting out-hit by the Storm Chasers 10-9, but those nine hits came at just the right times.

They answered Omaha’s big first inning with three runs of their own thanks to the bat of first-baseman Tommy Medica’s. With two men on base, Medica looked at a strike and took a ball before blasting a slider over the left field wall.

“It’s always good, if a pitcher has a tough first inning, if you can answer back for him,” Medica said. “I just got a slider up and wasn’t trying to do too much and got it over the wall.”

Medica went 2-4 on the night and improved his average to .257.

El Paso added two more runs in the second thanks to a two-run single by Melvin Upton Jr. and then added an insurance run in the fifth.

The Chihuahuas put a stop to a two-game losing streak and get their record back to .500. They remain in second place of the Southern Division and their 26-26 record has them 2.5 games behind the leading Las Vegas 51’s.

El Paso will continue the series against Omaha tomorrow when they take the field for the sixth game of the eight-game home stand. Getting over .500 and staying there is the objective.

“We have to play good,” Murphy said. “You have to play with a passion pitch-to-pitch passion…if you can do that, that’s the key to baseball.”

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected].

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Chihuahuas overcome rough start, beat Omaha