Chihuahuas caged in finale

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By Dave Kavanaugh

The weather was hot.

The Isotopes were hotter.

Albuquerque did not trail Tuesday night in its series finale at El Paso, riding a 6-0 lead to an 11-5 victory over the division-leading Chihuahuas (45-40).

The Isotopes evened their record at 42-42 and salvaged a second win in the teams’ important five-game series. An announced crowd of 9,972 fans braved Southwest University Park for a game that started with the temperature reading 100 degrees under partly cloudy skies in El Paso.

Albuquerque outhit El Paso 16-5, getting a shot in the arm from infielders Daniel Castro (4 for 5, three runs batted in, two runs scored) and Ryan McMahon (3 for 5, two runs).

Jon Gray, the onetime Isotopes ace who was just sent down from the Colorado Rockies, collected two hits to aid his own cause. He pitched six innings with six strikeouts and two runs allowed on two hits with no walks.

Castro, Garrett Hampson and Mike Tauchman each homered for Albuquerque, and Tauchman logged a game-high four RBIs to push his season total to 48. The Topes hit a robust 5 for 10 with runners in scoring position, including Hampson’s two-run homer, which came with two outs in the top of the fourth to make it 6-0.

Eight Isotopes had at least one hit apiece.

Castro’s solo home run opened scoring in the top of the third. Tauchman tripled to score Gray and McMahon, each of whom had reached with a single. And Josh Fuentes singled to deliver Tauchman for a 4-0 advantage.

Hampson’s two-run blast to left center added to the Isotope lead in the fourth.

Forrestt Allday got the Chihuahuas on the board with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, but Anthony Bemboom’s sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth made it 7-2.

Tauchman drove his 13th long ball of the season to center field, scoring McMahon and himself for a 9-2 lead in the ninth. Castro plated two more runs — Jordan Patterson and Drew Weeks — to make it 11-2.

El Paso rallied with three runs in its final set of at-bats.

Having pulled within two and a half games of first place, Albuquerque was to host Tacoma through Sunday. El Paso dropped into a tie for first with Salt Lake, which snapped a seven-game skid on Tuesday. The Las Vegas 51s — record-wise, the best of the PCL’s fourth-place teams at 40-45 — entered Wednesday just two and a half games behind the Isotopes, five out of first place.