Omaha, NE - Mike Olt hit a grand slam, Jorge Soler was a triple shy of the cycle, and the Iowa Cubs (63-56) held off a late rally to beat the Omaha Storm Chasers (60-56) 7-4 on Tuesday afternoon at Werner Park. Iowa opened up a 1.5 game lead over Omaha in the Pacific Coast League's American Northern Division. The Cubs and Storm Chasers split the four-game series, but Iowa won the season series 9-7. The Cubs improved to a PCL-best 28-7 in day games this season, including a 10-2 mark on the road.
The Cubs broke a tie game open with a five-run third inning, sending all nine hitters to the plate off Storm Chasers LH Buddy Baumann. A strikeout started the frame, but the next five batters all reached base and scored. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Soler, who ripped a single to right field to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Mike Olt followed by taking a 1-1 offering deep over the left field fence for a grand slam to provide the Cubs with a five-run advantage. Olt's grand slam was the sixth by a Cubs player this season. He has hit safely in 16 of 18 games since being optioned from Chicago on July 23, including a career-high 10 in a row. Olt is batting .400 (16-for-40) with five doubles, two home runs, and 10 RBI during this stretch.
Soler padded the Cubs lead in the fifth inning with a line drive solo home run just over the left field wall. He also plated Bryant with a run-scoring double in the first inning to the get the Cubs on the board. After his three-hit, three-RBI game, Soler now has four home runs and 12 RBI in his first 14 games with Iowa.
RH Dan Straily went seven strong innings to get his second consecutive win. He gave up two unearned runs on six hits, and tied a season-best with nine strikeouts. Straily didn't walk a batter for the first time since July 20, 2013 with Oakland -- a span of 35 starts between Oakland, triple-A Sacramento and Iowa. The right-hander has allowed just two earned runs in 20 innings (0.90ERA) in three starts against the Storm Chasers this year.
The Storm Chasers shaved a pair of runs off the Cubs five-run lead in the eighth inning off right-handed relievers Yoanner Negrin and Marcos Mateo. Negrin allowed a double, walk, and single to the first three hitters he faced to load the bases before getting removed by manager Marty Pevery for Mateo. Mateo gave up two sacrifice flies and two walks to the four hitters he faced. RH Alberto Cabrera came on with the bases-loaded and Cubs clinging to a three-run lead, but got Brian Bocock to strike out on three pitches to end the threat. Cabrera stayed in the game and retired the first hitter in the ninth, but allowed a one-out single and walk. He came back to get Paulo Orlando to fly out to center field for the second out of the inning. Pevey brought in LH Zac Rosscup for the final out. Rosscup threw three straight balls to Francisco Pena before Pena ripped a line drive to center field that Matt Szczur made a terrific diving catch on to preserve the victory. Rosscup recorded his fourth save of the season, and the eighth of his professional career.
Bryant had two hits and two runs scored to extend his streak with at least one hit and run scored to nine straight games. He has hit .400 (12-for-30) with three doubles, three home runs, 14 runs scored, and seven RBI during this streak.
Szczur and Rafael Lopez each had a hit for the I-Cubs to extend their season-high hitting streaks. Szczur has hit safely in 10 straight games, while Lopez has done so in seven straight.
Baumann took his third loss of the season for the Storm Chasers after giving up a season-high six runs on five hits and three walks. Omaha's first two runs were a pair of unearned tallies. After two one-out singles in the first inning put runners at the corners, a throwing error on a pickoff attempt by Straily, and another one to home plate by Olt, allowed Johnny Giavotella to briefly tie the game. Omaha took advantage of a Cubs error in the sixth inning to score their second run on a Carlos Peguero ground out.
The Cubs have an off day Wednesday before concluding their 14-game roadtrip with a five-game series in Oklahoma City starting Thursday night at 7:05. RH Carlos Pimentel (3-7, 4.56) takes the ball for the Cubs against LH Rudy Owens (5-5, 5.02). 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 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.