Omaha, NE - Omaha's Francisco Pena had a pair of two-run homers and the Storm Chasers (49-45) pitching staff held the Iowa Cubs (49-44) offense in check again in their 7-1 win on Thursday night at Werner Park. The Storm Chasers won three of the four games in the set, but the Cubs lead the season series 7-5. Iowa scored in just two of the final 21 innings of the series.
Cubs starter Carlos Pimentel threw an efficient 23 pitches in the first two innings before laboring through a 36-pitch third inning that resulted in the game's first run. Johnny Giavotella hit a two-out, two-strike single in front of Ryan Kalish in center field to score Jimmy Paredes, who singled to lead off the frame. Giavotella extended his hitting streak to six games in picking up his 38th RBI on the season, but just his second in his last 12 games. Pimentel walked Paulo Orlando to start the next inning, and two outs later he scored on a double just inside the first base line by Paredes to make it 2-0. The Storm Chasers got their final tallies off Pimentel in the sixth inning when Pena launched his first two-run homer of the game to left field. Pimentel got pulled after 5.2 innings. He gave up the four runs on six hits and four walks in his 18th appearance and 11th start of the year. The right-hander has a 5.66 ERA (34ER/54.1IP) in his starts compared to a 2.13 ERA (3ER/12.2IP) in his seven relief appearances.
RH Arodys Vizcaino relived Pimentel and got the final out of the sixth before giving up three runs in the seventh inning. The first three batters of the inning reached on singles, and Justin Maxwell grounded into a double play to score the first run. Pena followed by hitting another two-run homer, his 17th to take over the team lead. It was his second career multi-homer game. RH Jasvir Rakkar made his triple-A debut in the eighth inning and retired the side in order on two ground ball outs and one strikeout.
Iowa's only run came off the bat of Kris Bryant in the seventh inning when he hit a tape-measure home run to right field. Bryant has 31 combined homers between double-A Tennessee and Iowa on the year, which is tied with Joey Gallo of double-A Frisco for the most in minor league baseball. His nine home runs with the I-Cubs are second most on the team this season, and he has only played in 23 games.
The Cubs were held to eight hits on the night. Rafael Lopez had four of them to set a career-high, and he has multiple hits in seven of his 24 contests at the triple-A level. Javy Baez had a single in four plate appearances to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He is batting .283 (13-for-46) with 10 runs scored, five doubles, three homers and eight RBI over his last 13 games.
The Cubs are batting a PCL-low .222 (80-for-361) in July and are last in the league with a .245 (743-3027) average for the season. This was the 24th time in 93 games that Iowa has been held to zero or one run.
Storm Chasers LH Buddy Baumann, making his second consecutive start after 28 relief appearances to begin the year, allowed three singles, no walks, and struck out five in four scoreless innings. Baumann's 1.43 ERA (8ER/50.1IP) on the season is the lowest on Omaha's staff among pitchers who have made at least 10 appearances.
The Cubs return to Principal Park Friday night at 7:05 to square off with the Oklahoma City RedHawks for four games in three days before the All-Star break. LH Chris Rusin (6-10, 3.96) takes the ball for the Cubs against RH Paul Clemens (4-0, 1.74). There will post-game fireworks sponsored by Mediacom. The action 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 p.m.