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Rain, Grizzlies halt Isotopes win streak

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The Isotopes Park grounds crew rolls out the tarp in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game against Fresno. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

The Isotopes Park grounds crew rolls out the tarp in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game against Fresno. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

It took 2½ hours, but just five innings, for Fresno to wash away the Albuquerque Isotopes’ hopes of a season-high five-game winning streak on Tuesday night at Isotopes Park.

The Grizzlies got the game’s only run in the top of the fourth, then got some help from the clouds – and a questionable strike call – to take a 1-0 victory in the five-inning affair that was stopped by rain.

“It’s tough, because it’s still a tight ball game, we’re still in that ball game,” said Albuquerque manager Damon Berryhill, whose team had won four straight for the third time this season with a victory against the Grizzlies on Monday. “It’s just part of baseball. Mother Nature gets you sometimes. It’s also a situation you look, and we’ve played, I think, eight doubleheaders already and those are kind of tough on us (and a rain-out would have made for another doubleheader).”

The rain was already coming down hard when Fresno’s Chris Dominguez ripped a double to left-center to score Brandon Hicks with no outs in the fourth. Hicks had reached on an error by Albuquerque shortstop Carlos Triunfel to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Isotope starter Jeff Bennett.

Isotopes starting pitcher Jeff Bennett delivers during the fourth inning of a rain-shortened game on Tuesday night at Isotopes Park. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Isotopes starting pitcher Jeff Bennett delivers during the fourth inning of a rain-shortened game on Tuesday night at Isotopes Park. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

As most of the announced crowd of 8,380 either scurried to the upper deck or out the gates – and a handful of scouts raced to the press box – the rain continued during a fierce lightning storm that created plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” from the few left at the park.

The Isotopes threatened in the bottom of the fifth, one that ended with a bit of lightning from hot-hitting center fielder Joc Pederson – just not the kind he’d prefer.

But maybe one that others did.

After five innings a game becomes official.

With a runner on first and a full count, Pederson took a pitch that appeared to be inside. But it was called a strike to end the inning – and, ultimately, the game.

Pederson threw his helmet, started jawing with home plate umpire Ryan Goodman and was immediately thrown out of the game.

At least Pederson didn’t have to stick around for what soon became a 43-minute rain delay before the game was stopped.

So was it a bad call on the third strike?

“Honestly, I don’t know (an inside pitch) to a lefty from where I’m standing,” Berryhill said. “Height-wise it looked OK. I’ll have to look on film. But talking to Joc, it was in, and well in. So I’ve got to take his word on it until I look at it. But he usually has a good idea if it’s a ball or a strike.”

Albuquerque second baseman Walter Ibarra, left, gets the force out of Fresno’s Nick Noonan (12) in the first inning of Tuesday night’s rain-shortened game at Isotopes Park. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Albuquerque second baseman Walter Ibarra, left, gets the force out of Fresno’s Nick Noonan (12) in the first inning of Tuesday night’s rain-shortened game at Isotopes Park. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

The Isotopes remained in the dugout, expecting the delay to begin but the umpires actually signaled them to take the field again in the top of the sixth. After the first Fresno batter was retired, the delay began.

“I understand playing through the rain in the fifth (to make the game official), but I was a little upset about starting that sixth inning in it,” Berryhill said.

Bennett (4-5) didn’t start the sixth. He allowed six hits and walked two while striking out five and gave up just the one unearned run.

“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he really battled tonight,” Berryhill said. “He should have had five shutout innings. And you’ll take that any day.”

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