Round Rock, TX - Chris Valaika, Eli Whiteside, and Logan Watkins all homered in a five-run second inning that led the Iowa Cubs (54-46) to a 5-4 win over the Round Rock Express (48-50) at Dell Diamond on Saturday night. The Cubs have won the first three games of this series and have guaranteed a win of the season series over the Express for the first time since 2010. The Cubs lead 9-6 with one game left to play.
The Cubs sent nine men to the plate against Express starter Justin Germano in the second inning. Valaika hit the first pitch of the frame for his 10th home run of the season. After a pair of strikeouts, Whiteside and Watkins hit the team's first back-to-back home runs of the season. Whiteside has two of his four home runs against the Express this season. Watkins' shot was also his fourth of the year. The last Cubs to hit back-to-back home runs were Dave Sappelt and Mike Olt last year on August 6 at Tacoma. Matt Szczur and Brett Jackson followed with singles and both scored when Javy Baez split the left-field gap for his 21st double of the season.
The Express scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the third inning against Cubs' starter Eric Jokisch. With the bases loaded and no outs, Jim Adduci hit a drive to the gap in right-center field. Szczur was shading to left-center field, but raced over and had the ball in his glove on a diving attempt. The ball popped loose as he hit the ground giving Adduci a hit. Szczur recovered quickly and fired the ball to Baez who relayed the ball to the plate. The throw beat Luis Sardinas trying to score from second, but the ball squirted out of Whiteside's glove and rolled to the screen. Whiteside was charged with an error and Tomas Telis also scored while Adduci ended up at second base. Michael Choice followed with an RBI double, but Jokisch got out of the inning with a popup and a pair of strikeouts to preserve the lead.
Germano (3-10) worked through five innings without allowing any more runs, but suffered the loss. Three Express relievers combined to allow just one hit and struck out five over the final four innings.
Jokisch came out after four innings, so he didn't figure in the decision of the game. Carlos Pimentel (2-6) pitched three scoreless innings and struck out four to earn the win. Marcos Mateo allowed one hit and struck out the side in the eighth. Blake Parker fanned two in a perfect ninth to earn his league-leading 20th save of the season.
The Cubs and Express wrap up this series at 7:05 PM on Sunday night. LH Chris Rusin (7-10, 3.87) will start for the Cubs against RH Phil Irwin (4-1, 2.41) for the Express. 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.