New Orleans 7 - Memphis 6 Full Recap

NEW ORLEANS – Jason Alfaro hit a grand slam home run in the sixth inning, and Lastings Milledge went a perfect 4-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored as the New Orleans Zephyrs erased a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Memphis Redbirds, 7-6, on Wednesday afternoon at Zephyr Field.

New Orleans (8-6) scored five runs in the sixth inning off Memphis (6-8) starter Chris Narverson – all with two away. Carlos Gomez got things started with a single to shallow center field and in the process extended his hitting streak to 14 consecutive games to open the season.

From one top Mets outfield prospect to another, Milledge followed Gomez with a single to center that put runners at the corners. Former Cardinal Fernando Tatis then drew a walk to load the bases for Alfaro, who sent a first-ball fastball over the wall in left to give New Orleans their first and only lead of the day at 6-2.

Narverson (1-1) pitched effectively through the first 5 2/3 innings. The left-hander struck out nine batters, including the first two he saw in the sixth before Gomez started the New Orleans rally. He walked three.

Earlier in the day, Milledge hit his first home run since being demoted to Triple-A from New York. That gave New Orleans its first run of the afternoon.

Rick Ankiel and Edgar Gonzalez led the way for the Redbirds' offense with two RBIs apiece.

Memphis led off a three-run eighth inning with back-to-back home runs from Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick to pull the Redbirds to within two at 6-4.

Memphis added another run in the eighth after Tagg Bozied doubled and later scored on an RBI groundout from Travis Hanson, making it 6-5.

For Ankiel, it was his fifth homer of the season. The former pitcher turned outfielder also contributed with an RBI sac fly to center in the third, which resulted in the Redbirds' first run.

Ankiel has played all 13 games with Memphis this season in center after making the transition from right field in Spring Training.

Despite his five home runs, he's batting just .191. Seven of his nine hits this season have been for extra bases.

"It seems like every time I get a base hit, it's a homer," Ankiel said after the game. "In between, I'm just not getting many hits."

Is Ankiel sacrificing average for power?

"I don't think so," he said. "I'm just going up there trying to get a good pitch and trying to put a good swing on it."

New Orleans added an insurance run in the eighth after Milledge reached base with an infield single to the mound. He scored when backup catcher Ryan Christianson sailed an errant throw into left field while attempting to nail Milledge, who was attempting to steal third.

Christianson came into the game after starting catcher Brian Esposito was ejected for arguing balls and strikes following the final out in the Memphis eighth. Redbirds manager Chris Maloney was likewise tossed following the at-bat.

With one last chance in the ninth, pinch-hitter Jolbert Cabrera singled to lead off the inning and would come in to score on Gonzalez's RBI groundout.

Right-hander Lino Urdaneta got Ankiel to ground to second for the game's final out.

Most of the attention Wednesday was on Lastings Milledge, who picked up his first multi-hit game since joining New Orleans last week. The 22-year-old started his recent Triple-A stint 2-for-16, but has since gone 5-for-6 in his last two games.

"I had to slow the game down a little bit," Milledge said afterward. "Having not played the game for a couple of weeks, everything tends to speed up a little bit. I talked with some of the coaches and just tried to let the game come to me."

Milledge also seemed to be having more fun Wednesday. Following his home run, he smiled and waved to local area youth groups that were on hand for the game.

"I've been having fun," Milledge said. "I've been struggling a little bit. I haven't been seeing many pitches lately. I'm just now really getting a feel for the game like I had in Spring Training."

Jorge Sosa (2-0) picked up the win for the Zephyrs. He allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking one. The right-hander entered the day having allowed no earned runs through his first start, a span of 13 innings.

The Redbirds lost despite out-hitting the Zephyrs, 11-8.