PAPILLION, Neb. — Whit Merrifield hammered a three-run, second-inning home run and the Omaha Storm Chasers defeated the New Orleans Zephyrs 5-2 Thursday night.

Omaha starter Aaron Brooks (5-4) limited the Zephyrs to three hits through the first six innings. The Z’s nicked him for two runs in the seventh inning on a solo home run by Juan Diaz. Isaac Galloway then singled and scored on a double from former LSU standout Austin Nola.

Zephyrs starter Justin Nicolino returned after two games with the Miami Marlins. He allowed seven hits in the first three innings and got tagged for five runs over six innings in the defeat.

The Zephyrs are 37-42 on the season, trail Round Rock by nine games.

The Zephyrs will conclude an eight-game road trip at 7:05 p.m. Friday against the Storm Chasers. The Zephyrs will start Andre Rienzo (1-1, 2.79) against Buddy Baumann (1-1, 1.80).

The Zephyrs return home Saturday for a 6 p.m. game against Iowa in the start of a four-game homestand.