Dixon Machado's home run in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Iowa Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the New Orleans Baby Cakes on a chilly and windy afternoon in Des Moines on Thursday.
Released by the Marlins at the end of spring training and signed by Chicago, Machado has opened the year with nine hits in 17 at-bats, none bigger than the home run to give Iowa a split of the abbreviated two-game series, which saw Wednesday's game postponed by cold temperatures.
The Baby Cakes led for most of the day, behind another sterling performance from Zac Gallen. Pitching with a 2-0 lead after back-to-back RBI singles by Yadiel Rivera and Austin Dean in the opening frame, Gallen limited the Cubs to one hit through the first four four innings and looked every bit as dominant as his 11-strikeout, no-hit effort for seven innings on Opening Night.
Johnny Field led off the fifth with a triple and scored on Machado's single to cut the Baby Cakes' lead in half, but Isaac Galloway launched a solo home run an inning later to regain the two-run advantage. It was Galloway's second homer of the year and 35th of his New Orleans career to move into a tie with Jason Alfaro for sixth place on the club's all-time chart.
Iowa quickly capitalized on Gallen's exit from the game in the seventh, when Field and Machado singled off Brian Moran with one out and Metairie native Trent Giambrone smacked his second home run of the season to propel the Cubs in front, 4-3. Gallen was left with his second no-decision, despite beginning the year by allowing one run and three hits in 13 innings, with no walks and 19 strikeouts.
It marked the fifth blown save by the 'Cakes bullpen through the first seven games. New Orleans relievers have surrendered a staggering 10 home runs in 20 1/3 innings, lifting the team total to a league-high 16.
Down to their final out in the top of the ninth, tied the score on Harold Ramirez's line drive single to left to score Deven Marrero, who had walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The momentum was short-lived, thanks to Machado's blast off Tommy Eveld (0-2) in the bottom half.
James Norwood (1-0) got the victory despite a blown save.
The Baby Cakes continue their first road trip of the year on Friday in Omaha with the opener of a four-game set against the Storm Chasers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.