The Tulsa Drillers opened a three-game series Sunday afternoon in Corpus Christi, and for five innings, the Hooks seemed on their way to improving their league-best record. But trailing 2-0 entering the sixth inning, the Drillers put the first four batters on base and eventually scored four times to take the lead. It proved to be enough offense as the Tulsa bullpen was outstanding and closed out a 5-2 win for the Drillers.
The victory was the third in four games during the current road trip. For the season, Tulsa's record now stands at 6-4 through the season's first 10 games.
The Hooks took a lead in Sunday's opener with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third against Tulsa starter Matt Shelton. Jon Kemmer led off with a single and then scored the game's first run when Jio Mier followed with a double. Tony Kemp made it three straight hits when he singled home Mier, putting Corpus Christi on top 2-0.
Hooks' starting pitcher Lance McCullers held the lead with his second strong outing against the Drillers this season. He blanked Tulsa through the first five innings, allowing only two hits and three walks while striking out five. McCullers also shut out the Drillers in a five-inning outing last week at ONEOK Field.
After McCullers departed, the Drillers' bats came alive against reliever Mike Hauschild in their big sixth inning. The rally began with a leadoff single by Corey Seager. After Brian Burgamy drew a walk, Brandon Dixon singled in Seager to make it a one-run game. Paul Hoenecke singled home Burgamy to even the score.
Travis Witherspoon put Tulsa in front with a RBI groundout, and Peter Lavin capped the inning with a sacrifice fly to give the Drillers a 4-2 lead.
Tulsa reliever Ralston Cash held the Hooks without a hit in the sixth and seventh innings, and Jeremy Horst pitched around a pair of hits in the eighth inning to maintain the two-run lead.
The Drillers added a final run in the top of the ninth when Jon Garcia led off with a triple and Daniel Mayora doubled him home.
Chin-hui Tsao closed out the victory by striking out the side in a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth, picking up his second save.
Tulsa starter Matt Shelton (1-0) was credited with his first win of the year. Shelton pitched the first five innings and was charged with two runs on four hits and three walks.
Offensively, the Drillers totaled 11 hits with Mayora, Seager, Burgamy and Dixon, hitting in slots 2-5, picking up 2 hits each.
Tulsa will continue its road trip Monday night in Corpus Christi. Chris Anderson (2-0, 1.64 ERA) will look for his third win of the season, while the Hooks will send Aaron West (1-0, 1.80 ERA) to the mound. Starting time at Whataburger Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.