The New Orleans Zephyrs got enough runners on bases Thursday to keep pace with the Iowa Cubs, but they routinely failed to drive them home during an 11-2 loss in the four-game series finale at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Z's finished their eight-game road trip with three straight losses and have fallen into a tie for second place in the American South with Round Rock, 2 1/2 games behind the division-leading Nashville Sounds.
The Zephyrs went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 14 runners on base, one shy of their season-high of 15 they stranded May 10 at Omaha.
Alex Sanabia (5-4) made it through three innings with one run allowed and a tie game, but Iowa broke through with four runs against him in the fourth inning to bust the game open 5-1. After two singles and a walk, Mike Olt hit a bases-clearing double to score the first three runs, and he scored in the next at-bat on a single by Rafael Lopez.
I-Cubs starter Eric Jokisch (6-8) gave up eight hits in the first five innings, but the Z's scored just once on a two-out, bases-loaded single to left field by Rob Brantly that brought home Kyle Jensen and gave New Orleans a brief 1-0 lead.
Iowa tied the game at one in the bottom half of the frame, as Kris Bryant reached to open the inning on a fielding error by Ed Lucas. Bryant stole second base and took third when Rob Brantly's throw was wide of second base, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Valaika.
Sanabia also gave up a solo home run to Javier Baez in the fifth inning, but he struck out the side in that inning despite a walk to Jorge Soler and single by Valaika. Sanabia finished with seven strikeouts but gave up six runs (five earned) on six hits and three walks.
Donnie Joseph did not fare much better in the next two innings after the Z's scored their only other run of the night in the top of the sixth when Lucas hit a sacrifice fly off of Armando Rivero to score Danny Black, who led off the inning with a single against Jokisch.
Iowa loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning with two singles and a walk against Joseph, and Baez plated two with a single to left field to give the I-Cubs an 8-2 lead.
The final three runs also scored against Joseph, as he walked Valaika, gave up a single to Olt, threw a wild pitch and got Lopez to ground out while Valaika crossed home plate with Iowa's ninth run. Josh Vitters completed the rally with a pinch-hit, two-run home run before Grant Dayton came in to relieve Joseph and get the final five outs of the game.
The Zephyrs did not get an extra-base hit at any point, but Lucas went 3-for-3, Justin Bour went 3-for-5 and Black finished 2-for-4, as New Orleans outhit the I-Cubs 14-12.
The Z's will return home for a 13-game homestand that begins with a contest against the Omaha Storm Chasers at 7 p.m. Friday at Zephyr Field. Brian Flynn (7-6, 3.92 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Zephyrs against John Lamb (5-8, 3.68) of Omaha.