Two walks, a single and a passed ball gave the Iowa Cubs the deciding two runs in the seventh inning, and the New Orleans Zephyrs could not capitalize on enough of the I-Cubs' six errors to avoid a 5-4 loss Thursday at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa.
With the game tied 3-3 after five innings, Zephyrs reliever Carter Capps (0-1) struck out the side in the sixth inning and got the first two batters of the seventh to ground out, but he walked the next two hitters and Eli Whiteside smacked a single to right field to drive in Christian Villanueva and give Iowa a 4-3 lead.
Logan Watkins advanced to third base on the play and score in the next at-bat on a passed ball by New Orleans catcher Rob Brantly, who also had a passed ball in his last start Monday at Oklahoma City.
I-Cubs reliever Neil Ramirez took over in the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead and struck out the side to hold the lead for Alberto Cabrera (2-0), who relieved Jokisch with two outs in the sixth inning and recorded the next four outs around a walk and Josh Rodriguez's second hit of the game and fourth in his last eight at-bats.
Chris Hatcher pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Kyle Jensen drove in former I-Cub Brian Bogusevic on a base hit with two outs in the ninth, but Iowa reliever Brian Schlitter got Brantly to ground out for his second save of the season and second in as many games after a 6-3 win Wednesday.
Iowa pitchers held the Zephyrs to five hits, overall, but its defense committed a half-dozen errors in the first six innings.
Two of those errors led to Zephyrs runs, as Rodriguez reached on a throwing error by I-Cubs starter Eric Jokisch that loaded the bases after he had walked Mark Canha to lead off the inning and Zack Cox with one out. Jake Marisnick drove in Canha and Cox with a single to cut Iowa's lead to 3-2.
Another Jokisch throwing error with one out in the sixth inning sent Brantly, who had singled, to third base on a ground ball hit by Canha, who left the game with an apparent injury after he reached first base.
With the previous day's starting pitcher Elih Villanueva on first base to pinch run for Canha, Taylor Harbin picked up his first run batted in of the season on a groundout to second base that scored Brantly and tied the game 3-3.
The I-Cubs escaped damage from their other four errors in part because the Zephyrs struck out 10 times for the second straight game, batted 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left a season-high 11 runners on base to fall to 4-11 on the season.
Watkins made two of the defensive miscues in the first inning on ground balls from Bogusevic and Bour, who did not get a hit for the first time this season. He went 0-for-4 with an intentional walk to end his Pacific Coast League-leading hitting streak at 14 games.
Zephyrs starter Jay Rogers pitched around two two-out walks in the first inning and two hits in the second, but the I-Cubs broke through with three runs in the third inning.
Matt Szczur led off the inning with a single, and Arismendy Alcantara followed with a triple to put Iowa ahead 1-0. Chris Valaika doubled with one out in the inning to score Alcantara, and Watkins singled with two outs to plate Valaika.
Rogers went four innings with three runs allowed on six hits and four walks with a strikeout. Greg Nappo took over for the fifth and allowed two hits and a walk to load the bases, but he escaped with a strikeout of Jokisch to end the threat.
The Zephyrs and I-Cubs are scheduled to play the series finale of their four-game set at 7:05 p.m.Friday at Principal Park with Z's No. 1 starter Brian Flynn (0-1, 5.51 ERA) set to take the mound opposite of reigning PCL Pitcher of the Week Tsuyoshi Wada (2-0, 0.68 ERA).