Thursday: Zephyrs 4, Redbirds 1 _lowres

Zephyrs

Zephyrs-Redbirds postponed

Saturday’s game between the New Orleans Zephyrs and the Memphis Redbirds was postponed because of rain.

It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Aug. 8 at Zephyr Field, with the first game at 5 p.m. Sunday’s game is set for 1 p.m.

The Zephyrs (11-11) took the first two games of this series and have won five of six to climb to one game behind first-place Round Rock in the American South Division.

Clemens stepping up

With top starters Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino among five Zephyrs pitchers already called up to Miami, Paul Clemens two-hit performance Friday over 6.1 innings was as encouraging for the Zephyrs as it was impressive.

Clemens (3-2), who has had stints with the Texas Rangers (2012) and Houston Astros (’13 and ’14), retired the first 17 batters before allowing an infield single with two out in the sixth.

“I’d carried some no-hitters into the sixth and seventh innings, so I wasn’t disappointed,” he said. “I did a good job of throwing the ball inside against (Memphis) hitters, and everything else came off that.”

It was his fourth consecutive solid showing after allowing six runs in 1.2 innings in his first game at Oklahoma City on April 9.

Zephyrs’ defense supreme

New Orleans leads the Pacific Coast League in fielding with a .990 average. The Z’s have committed just two errors in the past 106.1 innings since Austin Nola’s fielding error on April 16 vs. Omaha..

Fielding played a big part in Clemens’ dominance on Friday, and it was Nola who perhaps came up the biggest, with several plays at third base.

In the first inning, Memphis left fielder Anthony Garcia hit a shot down the third-base line that Nola backhanded, then made the long throw from foul territory to get Garcia at first. Redbirds first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez led off the sixth with another hard smash that resulted in a backhanded catch and long throw from foul territory.

Perhaps Nola’s biggest defensive play came in the seventh. After Memphis loaded the bases with one out, Rodriguez hit another smash. Nola snagged it, then quickly threw pinpoint to second, and Elliot Soto relayed to first for the double play.

“Clemens gave them a real good outing, but they backed him up with excellent defensive plays,” Redbirds manager Mike Shildt said.

Darrell Williams