Des Moines, IA - Eli Whiteside drilled a walk-off single to score Jonathan Mota as the Iowa Cubs (51-44) came from five runs down to beat the Oklahoma City RedHawks (48-49) 6-5 in game one of a double-header on Saturday afternoon at Principal Park. The Cubs have won the first two games of this four-game series, and lead the season series 3-2. They improved to a league-best 26-4 in day games this season.
With the Cubs trailing 5-4, Josh Vitters led off the winning rally by flaring a single into short left field off RedHawks RH Jason Stoffel. Brett Jackson pinch-ran for Vitters, and he was on the move right away as Ryan Kalish doubled off the center field wall. Jackson tried to score on the play and was gunned down by 2B Ronald Torreyes. Kalish stole third base and would score the tying run as Mota ripped a double down the left field line. RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco brought in LH Kevin Chapman to face the next Cubs hitter, Lars Anderson. He drew a four-pitch walk, which set up the heroics for Whiteside. The catcher laced the second pitch into the left field corner to finish the Cubs 28th comeback win of the season, and cap their 12th win in their last at-bat.
RH Marcos Mateo pitched a season-high three innings of relief to get his first win of the year. He retired the first six hitters he faced in order, including striking out the side in the fifth inning, before working around a jam in the seventh. The 30-year-old recorded six strikeouts, the most he's had in 58 career appearances in an Iowa uniform and the most since he registered that many in a five-inning relief appearance with the Chicago Cubs on June 30, 2011.
The RedHawks got out to the early 5-0 lead as they knocked around Cubs starter Dan Straily, who was making his Principal Park debut after being acquired in a trade from Oakland on July 5. He labored through a 32-pitch first inning in which the RedHawks took an early lead on RBI single by Preston Tucker. Tucker added another hit in the third inning, and Gregorio Petit would score from first base as Kalish misplayed the ball. Oklahoma City would score three more times in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead. They loaded the bases on a hit by pitch and two infield singles. Straily then walked Austin Wates to force in a run, and Ronald Torreyes and Petit had sacrifice flies to finish the scoring in the frame. That inning was the last for Straily on the day as he threw 88 pitches in his four innings of work, allowing four earned runs on six hits. He walked four, which tied his season-high in 19 outings between three stops.
RedHawks LH Tommy Shirley was making his triple-A debut, and he faced the minimum through the first three innings. The Cubs broke through by scoring four runs in the fourth inning. Logan Watkins and Chris Valaika had back-to-back one-out hits to put runners at the corners for Manny Ramirez. He would pick up his fourth RBI in seven games with the club after grounding into a force out. Kalish atoned for his error a batter later by blasting a three-run homer over the scoreboard in right-center field. He has three home runs over his last seven games after hitting only two in his first 38 games with the club. Kalish has hit .280 (7-for-25) with seven RBI in that span.
Shirley went six strong innings in his triple-A debut, inducing 11 ground ball outs, including three double plays. He gave up four hits, but only one outside of the fourth inning, and four earned runs.
The Cubs and RedHawks play the second game of this day/night double-header at 7:05. RH Yoanner Negrin (0-1, 5.40) makes his first start of the season against LH Rudy Owens (4-4, 5.47). There will be a post-game concert by Decoy. The action 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.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.