Des Moines, IA - The Memphis Redbirds (52-52) scored three runs in the fifth inning and held off a furious ninth inning rally from the Iowa Cubs (57-49) to win 3-2 before 12,105 fans on Friday night at Principal Park. The Redbirds improved to 8-4 against the Cubs this year, including a 4-1 mark in Des Moines.
After being silenced through eight innings by three Redbird pitchers, the Cubs bats came to life in the ninth inning. Trailing 3-1, Javy Baez lined a one-out double to left field off Memphis closer Angel Castro. Kris Bryant would then leg out an infield hit to shortstop, and Baez scored on a pair of throwing errors that sent Bryant to third. With the infield drawn in and the tying run just 90 feet away, Jorge Soler chopped a ball to first base that Xavier Scruggs threw home to retire a sliding Bryant for the second out. Mike Olt followed by rolling a single into right field on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Josh Vitters came to the plate with two on and worked an impressive six-pitch at-bat for ball four to load the bases for Rafael Lopez. He took the first two pitches for balls and fouled the next two off before taking a called third strike to end the game. Castro threw 28 pitches in the inning to register is first of the season.
LHs Chris Rusin and John Gast pitched to a scoreless draw through four innings before the Redbirds scored the game's first runs with three in the fifth inning. Shane Robinson floated a two-out single in front of Vitters in left field to score Luis Mateo from second base, and Randal Grichuk followed with a long two-run homer off the suites in left field to give Memphis a 3-0 advantage. Grichuk has hit .364 (8-for-22) with two home runs and six RBI in five games at Principal Park this season.
The Cubs finally got to Gast in the sixth inning as Baez drove in Ryan Kalish with a sacrifice fly to center field for his team-leading 67th RBI to make a 3-1 game. That was all the Cubs could muster off Gast in his six innings of work. Gast allowed just two hits -- both to Kalish -- and struck out six while walking only two in picking up his third win in eight starts with Memphis this year. Gast has given up just three earned runs over his last 23.2 innings (1.16 ERA), covering four starts.
Rusin was the tough luck loser for the Cubs. He worked through eight innings and retired 10 of the final 12 hitters he faced in his second-longest outing of the year. The southpaw scattered eight hits, walked one and struck out four. He induced 13 ground ball outs, including two double plays. Rusin took his PCL-leading 11th loss, but the Cubs have scored three runs or less 14 of his 19 starts.
RH Marco Mateo tossed a scoreless ninth inning in relief of Rusin. He hasn't given up a run over his last 9.2 innings, covering seven appearances, and has struck out 14 in that span.
Kalish had a double and single for the Cubs only multi-hit game of the night. He has 10 on the season, and five have come in the last 17 games.
Baez, Bryant, and Soler, three of the Cubs' top five prospects according to Baseball America, went a combined 2-for-10 with an RBI, walk, run and three strikeouts.
The Cubs and Redbirds continue their five-game series by playing two seven-inning games tomorrow night starting at 6:05. RH Dan Straily (4-5, 4.73) makes his fourth start for Iowa in game one against LH Tim Cooney (9-5, 3.55). There will be a half hour break before RH Boone Whiting (3-6, 3.52) takes the ball for the Redbirds in game two. Both games will be broadcast live on AM 940 and streamed live at iowacubs.com with the On-Deck Circle Pre-Game Show starting at 5:45 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.