Eric Campbell's bloop single to left scored Isaac Galloway from third base in the eighth inning, and New Orleans won the series opener 3-2 against the Round Rock Express on Thursday at the Shrine on Airline.
The Baby Cakes (21-19) won the first game of a series for the fifth consecutive time.
Galloway led off the inning with a walk against two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (1-1), who is on rehabilitation assignment from the Texas Rangers. Galloway went from first to third on an infield hit by Magneuris Sierra that was fielded by third baseman Christian Lopes and no one covered the base.
Baby Cakes starter Sandy Alcantara (2-1) allowed two runs on five hits over eight innings, with the runs on homers by Nick Noonan in the sixth and Lopes in the seventh, tying the score. Jumbo Diaz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get the save.
First baseman Tomas Telis drove in two runs with a second-inning solo home run and had an RBI single in the sixth after Cristhian Adames' two-out double against reliever Ricky Rodriguez.
Instead of splitting its four-game series against the Omaha Storm Chasers it their previous series, the New Orleans Baby Cakes easily could have won it or even swept it.
Bullpen looks to step up
However, in the series' second game, Omaha scored two runs in the ninth, and in the third got three in the final inning. The Chasers won both games 4-2 after New Orleans starting pitchers had kept them in check all game.
Before that, in the series at Round Rock, closer Diaz gave up a three-run double to Hanser Alberto in blowing a save opportunity on just eight pitches. That also prevented the Baby Cakes from winning a series they split. Although it was his only blown save of the season, Diaz was moved to a set-up role after that.
Manager Arnie Beyeler, however, said he thinks the bullpen is OK.
“We have a very good starting rotation, and part of the by-product of that is that our back-end guys have not been getting a lot of work of late,” Beyeler said, shrugging. “But if the bullpen is getting a lot of work, that usually means the starters aren't doing so well.”
With a rotation of six good starters, Cakes pitchers have had quality starts in 14 of their past 16 games. It's the main reason New Orleans has racked up a 2.59 earned-run average so far in May, which leads the Pacific Coast League. This month, Reno is a distant second at 3.43.
At the plate, New Orleans is batting .297 in May, second in the league.
Center fielder Magneuris Sierra left Monday's game against Omaha with what was termed as cramps.
However, Sierra also sat out Tuesday, and Beyeler said he had a slightly pulled hamstring. Teams often don't play a player after he has to come out of a game, fearing it could aggravate an injury.
However, Sierra was back in the lineup Thursday in the series opener against the Express.
“We had an off day coming up Wednesday, so we decided to keep him out Tuesday and be safe,” Beyeler said.
Before coming out of Monday's game, Sierra, who is batting .241, had hit safely in 16 of his past 19 games until Saturday. During that stretch, he batted .321 (27-for-84).
The Marlins designated right-hander Junichi Tazawa for assignment and optioned right-hander Tyler Cloyd to the Baby Cakes on Thursday. The team said it would make its corresponding moves Friday. One likely call-up could be right-hander Ben Meyer, who was chosen Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week on May 7 after going 1-0 with a 1.93 earned-run average in two starts against Round Rock on April 30 and at Omaha on May 5. Meyer is scheduled to pitch Friday against Round Round, so it would be his normal rotation day.