ROUND ROCK, Texas – The Nashville Sounds managed just five hits in a 7-1 setback to the Round Rock Express Sunday afternoon at Dell Diamond.
Nashville (2-2) missed early opportunities in the first and second innings when they left a combined five runners on base, and the offense went stale for the rest of the day until the ninth inning.
The quiet offense wasted a solid effort from Nashville starter Paul Blackburn. The right-hander made a quality start in his first career Triple-A outing. The 23-year-old allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits in six innings. He was tagged with the tough-luck loss.
Round Rock’s (2-2) two runs against Blackburn came in the third when Jared Hoying lined a two-out, two-run single up the middle. Blackburn promptly picked off Hoying to end the inning.
It remained 2-0 as both teams didn’t produce much offense in the middle innings. Nashville reliever Josh Smith was summoned to pitch the seventh and found immediate trouble.
Cesar Puello and Ronald Guzman started the inning with back-to-back singles. A ground ball past short that went for a double plated Puello to make it a 3-0 game.
Smith bounced back to get Luis Marte and Doug Bernier for the first two out in the inning. The Sounds intentionally walked Preston Beck to load the bases, but the move backfired when Will Middlebrooks launched a grand slam to deep left to break open the game at 7-0.
Four runners reached for the Sounds in the ninth, but just one crossed the plate when Jaff Decker rifled a base hit down the right field line to score Matt Olson.
After going 10-for-29 with runners in scoring position the previous two games, the Sounds went 1-for-8 Sunday and left 12 runners on base.
The series finale is scheduled for Monday night in Round Rock. Right-hander Chris Smith starts for the Sounds against right-hander Eddie Gamboa for the Express. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.