Des Moines, IA - The Iowa Cubs (8-6) scored two go-ahead runs in the seventh inning and hung on to the beat the New Orleans Zephyrs (4-11) 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Principal Park, despite committing a season-high six errors.
In a 3-3 game, Iowa third baseman Christian Villanueva drew a two-out walk to fuel the rally off Zephyrs hard-throwing reliever Carter Capps. Logan Watkins drew a five-pitch walk and Eli Whiteside delivered the go-ahead run, dropping a bloop line drive just inside the right field line to put Iowa ahead 4-3. The Cubs would add their final run of the frame when Watkins scored on a passed ball.
Closer Brian Schlitter notched the 35th save of his Iowa career, moving past Michael Wuertz and Jim Bullinger for second in franchise history. He gave up a run on a leadoff walk and two-out single in the ninth inning, but preserved the lead. With the win, the Cubs are a season-best two games over the .500 mark.
For the second straight day the Cubs scored early runs to take the lead, scoring three times in the second inning. Arismendy Alcantara tripled high off the wall in right field to drive in the first run. Alcantara has hit safely in seven of his last eight games and in 11 of his 12 starts on the year. Chris Valaika continued his hot hitting by smacking a double down the left field line to plate Alcantara. Valaika went 2-for-3 on the afternoon and is hitting .471 (8-for-17) over his last six games. A Watkins RBI single capped the rally for Iowa. All four of Watkins' RBI on the season have come in the last three games.
Cubs starter Eric Jokisch was working around errors all afternoon. Watkins booted two balls in the first inning as the Zephyrs wasted a chance to take a first inning lead. Jokisch settled in and retired the side in order in two of the next three innings, not allowing any runs until the fifth inning. His only two walks of the afternoon started a two-run inning for New Orleans. On a comebacker to the mound, Jokisch airmailed a throw into centerfield, loading the bases with one out. Center fielder Jake Marisnick lofted a fly ball in front of Chris Coghlan to plate a couple and put New Orleans on the board.
The Cubs' defensive sloppiness led to another unearned run for the Zephyrs in the sixth inning. After a one out single, Jokisch gathered another comebacker and threw wildly past second base. A Taylor Hardin groundout scored the tying run. All told, the Cubs' six errors on the afternoon were the most they have had in a game since July 21, 2004 against Nashville in game they lost 16-3.
Jokisch departed after 5.2 innings and gave up three unearned runs on three hits, two walks and five strikeouts -- the most he's had at triple-A level. He led all Cubs' minor leaguers with 137 punchouts last season with the Smokies. All seven earned runs Jokisch has allowed on the season came in his April 11 start against Memphis.
Zephyrs first baseman Justin Bour went 0-for-4 with a walk, ending his hitting streak at 14 games. He tied Carlos Gomez's 14-game mark in 2007 for longest hitting streak to open a season in New Orleans season. Bour came into the day leading the PCL with 21 hits.
Chris Coghlan and Matt Szczur each stole their team-high fourth base of the season for Iowa. The Cubs came into today tied for fifth in the Pacific Coast League with 11 steals on the season.
The Cubs and Zephyrs finish up their four-game series Friday night with the reigning Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week LH Tsuyoshi Wada (1-0, 0.68) on the mound for the Cubs facing off against LH Brian Flynn (0-1, 5.51). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05, and there will be postgame fireworks presented by Mediacom. The game will be broadcast live on AM 940 and streamed live at iowacubs.com with the On-Deck Circle Pre-Game Show starting at 6:45.