Dylan Axelrod allowed one run on three hits over a season-high seven innings, and Xavier Scruggs homered in his return from the disabled list on Saturday at Zephyr Field.
“(Axelrod) works to contact, and the defense knows they’re going to be active,” manager Arnie Beyeler said. “Scruggsy is a good hitter, a nice, veteran guy to have back in the lineup.”
The Zephyrs (29-31) won for the eighth time in nine games, their best stretch of the season, winning four in a row for the third time. In beating Omaha (27-33) for the third consecutive time in the stand, the Z’s clinched a winning series for the third time in the past four, with the other being a tie vs. Memphis.
Destin Hood singled in Robert Andino in the fifth off Omaha left-hander John Lannan (5-5), giving the Zephyrs a 2-1 lead. It came after Andino and Austin Nola hit two-out singles, then Andino stole third base.
Scruggs then homered, boosting the lead to 3-1. The next batter, Isaac Galloway, lined a shot off the right forearm of Lannan, knocking him out of the game.
Axelrod (4-2), who entered having shut out opponents in his past two games spanning 11 innings, allowed three hits for the third game in a row.
Staying the course
By April 28, Hood was batting .309 and was second in the Pacific Coast League in home runs, with six, and also in RBIs, with 21. He had just come off a nine-game stretch in which he batted .321 (9-for-28) with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
However, like most of his teammates, Hood had a difficult May, going 18-for-109 (.165) in 29 games through June 3, his average dipping to .228.
Starting with first game of the Colorado Springs series on June 4, Hood has been bouncing back, getting nine RBIs in six games. He went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in Tueday’s series finale, and in the series opener against Omaha on Thursday went 2-for-4 with a triple that started a game-winning five-run seventh inning. He followed that with a two-out, three-run homer in the seventh on Friday in a 3-2 Zephyrs win.
“Austin Nola is the guy who deserves a lot of credit for getting a hit with two out,” said Hood, who has had at least one hit and one RBI in five of his last six games. “I haven’t really changed anything. I’ve just been patient. (manager) Arnie (Beyeler) and (hitting coach) Paul Phillips have continued to stand by me.”
Scruggs had been on the disabled list since May 23 with a strained hamstring. He got his first hit in the fourth, a single. Scruggs was a big-bat threat in the third spot in the lineup, hitting .283 with four home runs, 12 doubles, 17 RBIs and 23 runs in 37 games. When the Z’s had their May swoon, he remained consistent, hitting .286 with two home runs after batting .281 with two homers in April. … Outfielder Kenny Wilson stole his 17th base during the seventh inning, breaking a tie for third with there others. He is one behind teammate Galloway in second place and four behind the PCL leader, Nashville second baseman Arismendy Alcantara.