Fresno, CA - Joe Panik belted a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning that lifted the Fresno Grizzlies (36-32) to a 5-2 victory over the Iowa Cubs (33-31) at Chukchansi Park on Thursday night. The Grizzlies won the series 3-1 for their first series win over the Cubs since 2009.
The Cubs got on the board first with a run in the top of the first inning. 2B Arismendy Alcantara led off the game with a single, stole second base and scored on a two-out hit by C Rafael Lopez. The Grizzlies tied the game with a run in the bottom of the third. Juan Ciriaco singled, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a single by Darren Ford.
Small ball set the stage for the Grizzlies' big blast in the bottom of the fifth. Nick Noonan led off with a bunt single and Cubs' starter Eric Jokisch walked Ciriaco. Grizzlies' starter Mitch Lively popped up a bunt attempt before Ford beat out an infield single on a high chopper to third base to load the bases. On the second pitch, Panik lofted a fly ball that sailed over the short right field wall, just inside fair territory, for the third grand slam against the Cubs this season and Panik's fifth homer of the year.
The Cubs scored their final run in the top of the sixth inning when 1B Chris Valaika tagged Lively for a solo home run to left. It was Valaika's fifth home run of the season.
Lively (4-3) worked through seven innings and struck out five to earn the win. Jokisch (5-6) ended a streak of five consecutive quality starts, allowing five runs on five hits in six innings for the loss. Jokisch also set a season-high by issuing four walks. Frank Batista and Marcus Hatley each pitched a perfect inning in relief for the Cubs. Jose DePaula pitched a scoreless eighth to set up Heath Hembree for the ninth. Hembree set the Cubs down in order to earn his 12th save of the season.
The Cubs continue this road trip with the first of a four-game series on Friday night at Raley Field in Sacramento. First pitch is scheduled for 9:05 PM Central time. RH Dallas Beeler (3-2, 3.89) will start for the Cubs against RH Marcus Walden (2-2, 5.53) for the River Cats. 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 8:40 PM.