After five consecutive stellar starts, Chris Reed allowed four runs on five hits through five innings Sunday at Zephyr Field, and New Orleans struggled at the plate for the third straight game, falling to the Oklahoma City Dodgers 5-2.
Oklahoma City (37-31) clinched the series by winning its third in a row against the Zephyrs (32-36), with the finale Monday. New Orleans had won three and split two in its past five series.
“They pitched (well) again and got some big hits,” manager Arnie Beyeler said. “If we’re going to score one, two runs a game, we’re not going to win very many games.”
Dodgers starter Brock Stewart (2-0) held the Zephyrs to one run on five hits and no walks through seven innings, getting a career-high 10 strikeouts. New Orleans has scored six runs on 14 hits in the series.
With the score tied at 1 in the third, Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes walked, and shortstop Charlie Culberson followed a home run that just cleared the left-field fence. With two outs in the fourth, James Ramsey hit a homer down the right-field line for a 4-1 lead against Reed (1-3), who had allowed just three earned runs in his past 32 innings spanning five games.
Clemens gets the call
Miami brought up right-hander Paul Clemens on Sunday and optioned left-hander Justin Nicolino back to New Orleans.
In 10 starts since April 29, opposing batters hit .209 against Clemens. It is the fourth-lowest average among Pacific Coast League starters.
Before being hit for five runs in his start at Round Rock on Wednesday, Clemens had a stretch of three games in which he allowed just two runs on nine hits and four walks, with 14 strikeouts in 17.1 innings.
Nicolino was the Zephyrs’ ace before being called up April 27, 20 games into the season. He allowed 10 runs in four starts with the Zephyrs, going six innings in three and seven in one.
He made 10 starts with the Marlins but had a 6.89 ERA in three games in June. In his past two starts, he allowed five runs in 5.2 innings at Arizona and five in 4.2 at San Diego.
Zephyrs pitcher Cody Hall and Dodgers prospect Jose De Leon met before Sunday’s game to chat up old times. They were teammates at Southern University in 2011, when Hall was a senior and De Leon a freshman.
De Leon was the starting pitcher in Saturday’s Oklahoma City win. Hall has been on the disabled list with an impingement in his right shoulder since June 10, five days after he was optioned back to New Orleans from the Marlins.
“I’ve been receiving treatment and doing exercises to strengthen the area,” Hall said. “I’m not scheduled to return until after the road trip (July 4), but that could change if it gets better.”
Sunday’s win was the Dodgers’ ninth in a row at Zephyr Field. ... Stewart, making only his second Triple-A start, has a 1.35 ERA in 13 starts over three minor league levels. He primarily played third base at Illinois State before being drafted in the sixth round in 2014. … Austin Nola walked in the ninth inning Sunday, extending his streak of getting on base to 10 games. … The Zephyrs lost on Father’s Day for the second consecutive season after winning five in a row. Sunday was the first time since 2007 they were home on the holiday. They played Oklahoma City in that game, winning 4-0.
-- Darrell Williams