The Tulsa Drillers got their third straight strong outing from a starting pitcher Sunday evening, and the result was a third straight victory. Like Nick Schmidt and Joe Gardner the previous two games, Edwar Cabrera was outstanding, allowing only four hits and one run as the Drillers held off a late rally to defeat the Midland RockHounds 7-4 before a near sellout crowd of 7,411 at ONEOK Field.
Cabrera worked 6 2/3 innings and departed the game with a 6-1 lead. The lefthander walked two batters and struck out seven. The outing lowered his ERA to 1.99 in six outings at ONEOK Field this season. In comparison, he has a 5.16 mark in four road games.
Over the past three games, starters Cabrera, Schmidt and Gardner have combined to pitch 19 2/3 innings and have surrendered only 7 hits and 2 runs while logging a combined 0.92 ERA.
The Drillers took an early lead in the game thanks to a big, two-out hit from Kiel Roling in the bottom of the first inning. Angelys Nina got things going by dropping a one-out single into centerfield, and Nolan Arenado one-hopped the right-center field fence for a ground-rule double.
Nina was retired in a rundown between home and third when Ben Paulsen hit a chopper back to the mound, but he was able to avoid the tag out long enough for the runners to advance to second and third. After falling into a 1-2 hole, Roling worked a full count off Midland starter Sonny Gray before hitting a breaking pitch over the third baseman's head and into the left field corner, plating both Arenado and Paulsen to make it 2-0.
The RockHounds cut the lead in half in the top of the third when Dusty Coleman walked, stole second and scored on a double by Josh Horton.
The score remained 2-1 until the Drillers scored three times in the sixth inning, and Nina again got things started with a leadoff double. After a base hit from Arenado put runners at first and third, Tulsa took advantage of a wild pitch to score a run for the second time this homestand when reliever Paul Smyth's offering got past catcher Ryan Ortiz. Following a base hit from Paulsen that plated Arenado, Roling struck again with his second double of the night to put the Drillers in front 5-1.
Nina singled again in the seventh and scored on an error to up the lead to five runs, but Michael Spina made things interesting in the top of the eighth. The Midland first baseman's three-run homer off reliever Cory Riordan cut Tulsa's lead to 6-4. It was Spina's team-leading seventh home run of the year.
The Drillers took advantage of three Midland errors in the bottom of the eighth to get one of the runs back. It capped a nightmarish defensive night for the RockHounds who committed six errors, the most in a Texas League game this season.
In addition to the strong starting pitching, another positive trend continued for the Drillers. Offensively, they totaled 10 hits, the third straight game they have reached double figures. In the five-game homestand, Tulsa has a .289 team batting average after hitting only .195 in its previous four contests.
For the second straight game, the Drillers had four consecutive hitters in the lineup with multiple hits. Nina, Arenado, Paulsen and Roling, hitting in spots 2-5 in the lineup, accounted for nine of the ten hits.
Arenado, Paulsen and Roling had two hits each, while Nina had his third three-hit game of the season.
Coty Woods also kept his scoreless innings streak alive. He pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth to keep Midland off the scoreboard and record his eighth save of the year. Woods has not allowed a run in 21 2/3 innings this season.
The win for Cabrera improved his record to 5-4.
Tulsa, who is 4-1 on the current homestand, will conclude the stand Monday afternoon at ONEOK Field. Dan Houston (5-4, 3.21 ERA) will pitch the finale for the Drillers against Gary Daley Jr. (6-2, 5.16 ERA) of the RockHounds. Starting time is scheduled for 1:05PM.