Des Moines, IA - The Iowa Cubs (57-50) raced out an early 3-0 lead, but the Memphis Redbirds (53-52) would come back and hang on late to win 5-4 in game one of a double-header on Saturday night at Principal Park. The Redbirds have won nine of the first 13 meetings between the teams, including five of the first six in Des Moines.
The first five Cubs hitters reached base off Redbirds LH Tim Cooney. Matt Szczur ripped a single up the middle to get the rally started and Chris Valaika walked to put two runners on for Javy Baez. Baez launched the fifth pitch of the at-bat over the left-center wall for his team-leading 18th home run to give the Cubs an early three-run lead. Baez also has a club-best 70 RBI. He has hit safely in 19 of the last 20 games. Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler would follow with a single and double, but they would be stranded there as Cooney got two strikeouts and a fly out to end the inning.
The Redbirds would tie the game on a pair of home runs against RH Dan Straily. Xavier Scruggs hit his 12th homer of the year in the second to get the Redbirds on the board and make it a 3-1 game. Two unlikely candidates had extra-base hits in the third to even the game. Cooney had his first double of the season in 20 at-bats, and Shane Robinson hit the next pitch over the left field wall for his second home run in 49 games with the Redbirds this season. Straily has given up four home runs over his last two starts after not allowing any in his first two outings with Iowa.
Memphis took their first lead of the game in the fourth inning after they sent eight men to the plate and scored twice. Scruggs ripped an RBI double into left field, and a batter later, Audrey Perez hit one over the glove of Bryant at third base and into left field for a run-scoring single. Straily struck Randal Grichuk out with the bases-loaded to end the inning and prevent any further damage.
Cooney settled in after the first inning and faced just two over the minimum over the next four innings. He took the mound for the sixth inning and gave up a one-out double to Mike Olt and RBI single to Ryan Kalish to cut the Redbirds lead to 5-4. Eli Whiteside followed by blooping a single to center field and Kalish took off for third base, but was thrown out by center fielder Shane Robinson. Cooney was then pulled after pinch-hitter Josh Vitters was announced. RH Eric Fornataro took over and retired Vitters. He stayed in for the seventh inning and gave up a leadoff hit to Szczur -- his third of the game -- inducing a double play. Baez kept the Cubs alive by stroking a double off the center field wall, but Fornataro got Bryant to ground out to shortstop to end the game and preserve his ninth save of the year.
Cooney picked up his team-high 10th win, including his third in three starts against the Cubs this season. He has a 1.78 ERA (4ER/20.2IP) in those starts, including a one-hit shutout on May 29 in Memphis.
Straily took his third loss in four career starts with the Cubs. He allowed seven hits, five runs, two walks, while striking out eight, the most he's recorded in an Iowa uniform.
RH Kyuji Fujikawa made his third major league rehab appearance with Iowa in the sixth inning. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the frame, but got out of the inning unscathed after Grichuk grounded into a 5-2-3 double play with the bases loaded. Fujikawa has given up one earned run on four hits in his three innings of rehab.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.