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Lambert, ’Topes light it up

Two days following his promotion, Peter Lambert made his Triple-A debut on Wednesday night. Quite impressively, as a matter of fact.

And at the end of his assessment of his new right-handed pitcher, the primary decision maker for the Albuquerque Isotopes offered this about Lambert’s future:

“I don’t think he’s gonna get sent down,” Isotopes skipper Glenallen Hill said.

With the seventh-largest crowd — 15,652 Fourth of July revelers — in the team’s history looking on, Lambert threw six terrific innings for Albuquerque in an 8-2 victory over Tacoma at Isotopes Park.

“Going in,” the 21-year-old Lambert said, “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Go out and do what you do best.’ But there were nerves since it’s my first game at this level.”

And while the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Lambert, drafted No. 44 overall by the Rockies in 2015 coming out of San Dimas High School in Southern California, did allow a first-inning run, he was otherwise outstanding.

Lambert, who walked just 12 batters in 92⅔ innings in 15 starts at Double-A Hartford before he was shipped 2,000 miles to the Southwest part of the country on Monday, surrendered two earned runs on seven singles in six innings to the Rainiers.

And, he didn’t walk anybody.

“I just wanted to get out there and throw strikes,” he said, adding, “I hate walking people.”

He worked quickly and efficiently, and induced a pair of clutch double plays at junctures when the game was still close.

“Pete, he’s a competitior, man,” said Isotopes first baseman Ryan McMahon, who clubbed a pair of home runs and drove in four to lead the Albuquerque offense. “He’s a bulldog. He’s battling his ass out there every pitch.”

Hill first, and then Lambert later, both agreed there were some first-inning nerves as he made his first professional start in this hitter-friendly venue.

“After he got through the first inning,” Hill said, “he settled down.”

Lambert, the Los Angeles Times baseball player of the year for Southern California in 2015, was in the strike zone 71 percent of the time against Tacoma: 59 out of 83 pitches were strikes. He fell behind 3-0 a couple of times, and only went to three balls on four batters, but there were no free passes.

“He was great for us,” McMahon said. “It was cool to see him in action, finally.”

And now Lambert appears well on his way to being a fixture in the rotation during the upcoming second half, which begins after the Triple-A All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, next week. The Isotopes (43-42) are in third place in the PCL’s Pacific Southern Division behind Salt Lake and El Paso, who began the night tied for first place.

“We’re here to win,” said Lambert, who was 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA at Hartford, including victories in each of his last five starts. “And I’m here to do the best I can to help this team win.”

McMahon, meanwhile, belted his fifth and sixth home runs of the season.

Ryan McMahon celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting his second home run against visiting Tacoma Rainiers Wednesday evening. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

He clubbed a three-run shot down the right-field line in the bottom of the fifth to put the Isotopes in front 4-2. In the seventh, he clobbered a pitch that traveled at least 450 feet to right center for a 5-2 edge.

The Isotopes tacked on three insurance runs in the eighth, with Daniel Castro, Anthony Bemboom and Shawn O’Malley, the bottom three batters in the order, delivering consecutive RBI singles. O’Malley also had two bunt singles in this game.

“It honestly is a great group,” said McMahon, talking about the second half of the season. “We have a great clubhouse here. I think we’re gonna be fine and take care of business.”

The five-game series continues today and runs through Sunday night. Saturday will be the team’s annual Albuquerque Dukes tribute night.

Box Score: Albuquerque 8, Tacoma 2

TOPES TODAY for Thursday, July 5: Vs. Tacoma, 6:35 p.m.

Radio: 610 AM/95.9 FM

Probable pitchers: Isotopes RHP Jeff Hoffman (3-4, 4.27) vs. Rainiers LHP Ross Detwiler (2-1, 5.40)

Wednesday: 1B Ryan McMahon slammed two home runs and RHP Peter Lambert excelled in his Triple-A debut, leading the Isotopes to an 8-2 win over visiting Tacoma. The announced turnout of 15,652 was the seventh largest in franchise history. McMahon also scored three runs and drove in four. Lambert, ranked the Colorado Rockies’ third-best prospect, gave up two runs on seven hits through six innings.

Isotopes shortstop Daniel Castro dives to stop a grounde. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)