By Jon Garrett
Killeen Daily Herald
ROUND ROCK While its parent club might be experiencing a power outage at the plate, the Express' Chris Burke and Luke Scott both recently sent down to Triple-A after beginning the season with the Astros made sure Round Rock didn't fall victim to the same ills.
The duo blasted back-to-back solo home runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game and kickstart a sputtering Express (19-15) offense on the way to a 6-4 victory over Tacoma in the second game of a four-game homestand with the Rainiers (16-16) on Wednesday.
Round Rock manager Jackie Moore had nothing but praise for his No. 2 and No. 3 hitters after the game.
"They're capable of doing this," he said. "There's a reason they played with the big-league club for a while. They came down a little rusty, but now they're getting some at bats and they're good young players."
And what a day it was.
Following an outing which saw Burke go 1-for-5 with three strikeouts and Scott finishing 1-for-5 with a double in a 9-4 loss to Tacoma to open the series in the players' Round Rock home debut, it seemed neither could do any wrong.
Burke was 3-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBIs and Scott was 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs, accounting for more than half the team's offensive output.
"I feel good up there," Burke said. "I'm just looking forward to getting into the routine of things."
The Express 2003 MVP, who was hoping to play everyday at second base with the signing of Jeff Kent by Los Angeles but was sent down when Craig Biggio was moved back to the position, added he had plenty of help.
"Luke swung the bat well today," he said.
Burke and Scott got Round Rock on the board in the third frame on a Burke single to center to drive in Charles Gipson. Scott followed with a triple off the center field wall to bring in Burke.
Down 4-2 going into the sixth frame, Tacoma reliever Albie Lopez entered to pitch to Burke, who crushed Lopez's hanging slider to the grassy knoll in left field just below Round Rocks' Home Run Porch. Scott, facing a 2-1 count, jumped on Lopez's fastball for a dinger that sailed 410 feet over the wall in left-center.
Royce Huffman singled through the left side to drive in Carlos Rivera, who doubled to get on, and Tommy Whiteman crushed an RBI single up the gut to score Huffman to close the door on the Rainiers.
Pitcher Taylor Buchholz (1-0), who is recovering from off-season surgery on his right arm and had not thrown more than five innings this season, was the beneficiary of that improved offense, getting his first win in six starts with Round Rock this season.
Former Major Leaguer Lopez (0-1) took the loss for Tacoma, allowing four runs (all earned) on five hits in 2/3 of an inning.
The series continues today at 7:05 p.m. Righthander Chris Fussell will get the call for Round Rock against the top pitching prospect in the Seattle Mariners organization, 19 year-old Felix Hernandez.
EXPRESS NOTES The announced attendance of 11,978 for the day game was the seventh-largest regular-season crowd in Dell Diamond history.
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