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’Topes gave it away in the ninth

And the last home game of the season is tonight

The Albuquerque Isotopes had the game all but licked last night—until the inning that mattered the most. The evening was hot, and the crowd was feeling great, cheering the team on. As night wore on, it began to smell of rain, but the ’Topes were still up. It wouldn't last.

Albuquerque held the Iowa Cubs to a scoreless first half of the first inning. Rafael Furcal, on loan from the Dodgers, got the scoring started with a great hit that should have been only a double, but thanks to a misread by the I-Cubs outfield, turned into a triple, putting him in scoring position.

Iowa answered back in the second inning, but that was the only time it was close: Albuquerque led (or was tied) at every point in the game, until the ninth. The ’Topes blasted four runs in the second inning, three of them after a controversial double play was recalled.

In the third inning, the Cubs still played victim and didn't score a single run, but John Lindsey hit a monster double that looked like it was going to sail over the back wall but dropped just short.

The massacre slowed a bit in the fourth inning, when the 'Topes scored only one run, but by that point it was 9-1, good guys on top. The Cubs started their comeback in the fifth inning, scoring two runs, but the teams traded runs after that point—the Albuquerque scoring three in the sixth, and Iowa doing the same in the seventh.

The crowd enjoyed the baseball tradition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and cheered on the chile race (green won after an early collusion took down the rest of the field). Then things turned sour for the former Dukes.

In the ninth inning, they gave the game away. Allowing nine runs, the crowd turned from its playful, celebratory mood to curses and repeated calls to remove the pitcher or improve the defense; anything to stem the bloodletting. As more and more fans got up and abandoned the hope of a rally, they started to talk about the season's home closer, tonight at 6:35 PM.

The Isotopes lost to the I-Cubs, 15-13. With playoff hopes firmly out of reach, the focus at tonight’s game will hopefully be more relaxed, and the ’Topes will be able to say goodbye to the 505 for the year on a positive note.