Leadoff homer backs Flynn's masterpiece

Rodriguez leadoff homer enough in Flynn's dominating start

By Jacob Mayer / New Orleans Zephyrs | April 18, 2014 11:38 PM ET

Josh Rodriguez hit the second pitch of the game for a home run, and that was all the offense the New Orleans Zephyrs needed with Brian Flynn on the mound to beat the Iowa Cubs 1-0 and take a split of the four-game series at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa.

Runs figured to be scarce with Zephyrs ace Flynn matched up against reigning Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week Tsuyoshi Wada, and both rose to the occasion.

Wada (2-1) allowed a single to Brian Bogusevic in the at-bat after Rodriguez's home run, but then retired 19 of the next 20 batters he faced and did not allow another hit until Rob Brantly doubled with two outs in the seventh.

Wada pitched eight innings and allowed three hits with one walk and five strikeouts, but Flynn (1-1) was even better. He held the I-Cubs to one hit and one walk with a season-high seven strikeouts and one walk in seven innings.

Flynn gave up a single to the third batter he faced, Chris Valaika and walked Josh Vitters in the next at-bat, but he set the final 19 hitters he faced down in order in the longest outing for a Zephyrs starting pitcher this season and lowered his earned-run average from 5.51 to 3.86.

Flynn needed 79 pitches to get through his seven innings, but Henry Rodriguez took over for him in the eighth and promptly retired the I-Cubs in order in the eighth, including two strikeouts.

Rodriguez also struck out the final two hitters in the ninth for his first save of the season after Logan Watkins opened the frame with a single, and Matt Szczur moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt.

The Zephyrs picked up their fourth hit of the night in the top of the ninth when Justin Bour singled off of Marcus Hatley. Bour's 14-game hitting streak ended Thursday, but an intentional walk in the 5-4 loss kept his streak of games having reached base safely in tact. He has now reached base in all of the team's first 16 games and has at least one hit in all but one of them with a team-leading .367 batting average.

Brantly finished the game 1-for-3 to bump his batting average to .302 and has a four-game hitting streak, while Bogusevic also finished 1-for-3 with a walk to move his average to .309.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, is hitting .296 for the season and has hit safely in each of his last three games. He finished the series against Iowa 5-for-17 with his third home run of the season, two doubles, three runs scored and a stolen base.

The Zephyrs improved to 5-11 with the win and finished their road trip 4-4. They will return home to begin a four-game series against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox at 6 p.m. Saturday at Zephyr Field.

Bryan Evans (1-1, 6.00 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Z's against Yohan Flande (0-2, 10.80 ERA) of the Sky Sox.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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