It was probably fitting that Ruben Sosa’s two-run, inside-the-park homer capped a game-deciding, seven-run eighth inning.
“That’s about the way that whole inning went,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said.
Oklahoma City turned a 4-2 deficit into a 9-4 lead in the eighth, then tacked on two more runs in the ninth for an 11-4 win Wednesday before 5,056 at Werner Park to even the five-game series at 2-2.
Omaha starter Justin Marks sailed into the eighth with a 4-2 lead, having retired 11 of the previous 12 batters and striking out the side in the seventh.
But Robbie Grossman led off the eighth with a bad-hop single and scored as Jose Martinez doubled into the left-field corner.
“We were in total control of the game until the eighth inning,” Jirschele said. “But everything becomes contagious — hitting, fielding, mental mistakes. And it all happened in that inning.”
Michael Mariot (2-5) came on in relief but couldn’t close the door. George Springer’s high-chop single tied the game, and Brandon Laird followed with a broken-bat single.
“We’ve just got to command the strike zone better when we come in from the bullpen,” Jirschele said. “We’ve got to be able to put the fire out.”
The runners moved up a base on an errant pickoff throw by Mariot.
Jimmy Paredes followed with an RBI single, and a second run scored on the play as right fielder Anthony Seratelli mishandled the ball for an error.
Paredes moved to third on a Jonathan Singleton single, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Perez.
Then the speedy Sosa followed with a drive to deep right center.
Running hard from the outset, Sosa got the go-ahead from third base coach and manager Tony DeFrancesco. Meanwhile, second baseman Christian Colon hesitated when getting the relay throw from center fielder Gorkys Hernandez — and that was more than enough to allow Sosa to score relatively easily.
It was the first inside-the-park homer in the history of the 3-year-old Werner Park and the first inside-the-park homer against Omaha since Edmonton’s Michael Restovich had one on Aug. 28, 2002.
“Shouldn’t have been,” Jirschele said. “It wasn’t played correctly. When you’ve got a guy who can run like that and he’s coming into third hard, and you’re getting the ball deep — out in the outfield — you’d better turn around and get the ball to home plate as quick as you can to stop him. You don’t turn around and check to see if he’s going.
“But in his defense, (shortstop Irving) Falu had told him to cut it and run it in. Your trail guy is the one who has to make the call.”
RedHawks reliever Philip Humber (1-4), who had been 0-12 between Houston and Oklahoma City this season, got the win with three hitless innings of relief.
Quintin Berry’s two-run homer in the fourth had put Omaha in front 3-2.
Berry lined a 2-0 fastball well over the wall in right center off Brad Peacock for just his third extra-base hit, and second homer, in 30 games with Omaha.
Colon added a solo homer in the fifth to make it 4-2. It was his eighth of the season, matching the career high he set in 2011.
Marks, who had been 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA in two starts against Oklahoma City — including the June 22 outing in which he gave up nine runs on 15 hits in 5 2⁄3 innings — pitched seven strong innings before running into trouble. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
Laird hit a two-run homer in the fourth to give the RedHawks a 2-1 lead, but after giving up singles to the next two hitters, Marks got into a groove. He just couldn’t extend it into the eighth.
“We had the right-handers coming up,” Jirschele said of his pitching change. “I almost wanted to take him out, but our bullpen has been strapped. Marks was pitching fine. After the hit to Martinez, with Springer and Laird coming up, I thought our best shot was Mariot.”
Jirschele, in his 14th season, lost for the 1,000th time as the Omaha manager. He is 974-1,000 with Omaha and 1,187-1,115 overall in 17 seasons in the minors.
Reaction, as typical with Jirschele, was a combination of brusque and self-deprecating humor.
“I don’t really care, because I don’t win and lose the games,” said Jirschele, who then smiled and added. “Well, I suppose I could lose a few.”
STORM TRACKING: Catcher Manny Pina will return from Class AA Northwest Arkansas and join the club Thursday. Omaha needs to make a roster move to create a spot for him. ... Outfielder Paulo Orlando was out with a sprained ankle.