Arismendy Alcantara had three hits, including a tiebreaking two-run triple in the seventh inning as the Iowa Cubs topped the New Orleans Zephyrs, 6-3 on Wednesday afternoon in Des Moines.
New Orleans reliever Jesus Sanchez entered the game to begin the seventh and promptly gave up a single to pinch hitter Edgar Gonzalez. New Orleans third baseman Zack Cox made a throwing error to first base on a bunt by Matt Szczur, and Alcantara tripled in both runners to give Iowa a 5-3 lead.
Alcantara scored two batters later on Josh Vitters' second double of the game, putting the Cubs ahead 6-3. Sanchez then intentionally walked Chris Valaika before Josh Spence replaced him to close out the inning without any further damage, but not before five of the six batters Sanchez faced in the seventh reached base.
Sanchez (0-2) recorded one out, a strikeout of Chris Coghlan, after Zephyrs starter Elih Villanueva had allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings with two walks and four strikeouts. Villanueva retired eight of the last nine batters he faced to keep the Cubs scoreless after the second inning.
Iowa shortstop Logan Watkins hammered Villanueva's second pitch of the second inning over the right-field wall to tie the game 3-3 after the Zephyrs had plated three in the top half of the frame.
Z's first baseman Justin Bour opened that inning with a single to right field to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, equaling the New Orleans club record set by Carlos Gomez in 2007 for the longest streak to begin a season.
Josh Rodriguez sent Bour to third on a double, and Juan Diaz drove him in on a single to center field before Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (2-1) recorded an out in the inning.
Kyle Skipworth went down as the third of Hendricks' nine strikeouts for the game, but the Zephyrs executed a double steal during the next at-bat, with Rodriguez breaking for home as Diaz swiped second base to score the Z's second run.
Diaz scored when Zack Cox drove him in with a single to center field for his first run batted in of the season, handing the Zephyrs a short-lived 3-2 advtange.
Hendricks, however, allowed just one more hit in the remainder of his seven innings, a single to lead off the fifth by Villanueva.
Former I-Cub Brian Bogusevic doubled off of reliever Marcos Mateo in the eighth inning for his lone hit in four at-bats, and the Zephyrs got two runners on base to begin the ninth with singles from Rodriguez and Diaz for each of their second hits of the game, but Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter retired the final three hitters in order to pick up his first save of the year.
Iowa scored its first two runs off of Villanueva in the first inning when he allowed four consecutive hits after he retired leadoff hitter Szczur.
On a blustery day with 30 mph winds blowing out, Alcantara began the hit parade with a wind-aided double as part of his 3-for-5 day with two RBI and two runs scored. Coghlan followed with a single to drive in Alcantara and stole second base before Vitters doubled to left field.
Valaika singled to right field to send Coghlan to third, but Villanueva got first baseman Lars Anderson to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The Zephyrs had eight hits but went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and struck out 10 times for the second consecutive game.
The third game of the series is scheduled to begin at 12:05 p.m. Thursday at Principal Park and feature right-hander Jay Rogers (0-1, 5.40 ERA) for the Zephyrs against lefty Eric Jokisch (0-1, 5.25 ERA) for the Cubs.