Express drop series opener to New Orleans

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Runs were at a premium for most of the night on Monday at the Dell Diamond for both the Express and Zephyrs.

Round Rock eventually surrendered to the second best pitching staff in the Pacific Coast League, falling 5-3.

Express starter Zach Jackson turned in his second consecutive quality start against New Orleans, the first coming in last Tuesday’s 7-1 victory in New Orleans. On Monday, he was less fortunate with the run support as Zephyrs starter Tom Koehler threw a strong six innings while fanning a season-high 10 batters.

The Express offense got off to a quick start in the first inning, collecting one run on three hits, but also set the table for wasting opportunities. The Express added another run in the second off of a Dusty Brown solo home run, but Koehler would not allow the offense to reawake until the eighth inning when it was too late.

Zach Jackson threw a season high six-and-two-thirds innings while striking out five batters of his own.

“I was getting ahead and I was locating the fastball, locating it away. Just trying to keep them off balance,” said Jackson. “Just a bummer [that] the results ended up the way they did, but that’s the game of baseball.”

The Zephyrs found the scoreboard for the first time in the third inning when center fielder Kevin Mattison singled home Chase Lamdin, cutting the Express lead to 2-1.

Jackson cruised from there before finally running into trouble in the Zephyr half of the seventh. With one on and one out, designated hitter Lamdin blasted a first pitch fastball over the left field fence, giving the Zephyrs a lead they would
not relinquish.

“I dropped the ball for one pitch in that seventh inning, left the fastball over the plate and he crushed it,” said Jackson, who retired one more batter after the homer before turning it over to the bullpen, officially bringing his night to a close.

The Zephyrs tacked on two more runs in the top of the eighth, stretching their lead to 5-1. The Express clawed back for another run in their half of the eighth when Matt Kata scored on a Joey Butler fielder’s choice, their first since the second inning.

However, the Express went quietly into the night when Zephyrs closer Sandy Rosario entered the game in the bottom of the ninth, facing four batters and striking out two.

The loss drops the Express to 10-15 on the season, and they sit six games behind the division-leading Oklahoma City Redhawks.

The series continues Tuesday in Round Rock where the Express will send left-hander Michael Kirkman to the mound in hopes of snapping their current three-game skid.

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as: Express six games back in division after losing series opener