DES MOINES, Iowa - The Redbirds were held to a combined eight hits in two games, but walked away with their second doubleheader sweep in as many days on Sunday afternoon against Iowa at Principal Park.
Memphis notched a 4-2 victory in the twinbill opener and shutout the Cubs 2-0 in the series finale. It was the fourth doubleheader sweep of the season for the 'Birds, three of them coming against Iowa. With the pair of wins Memphis recorded its first five-game series sweep in franchise history. The last time an opponent swept the Redbirds in a five-game series was July 21-23, 2006, when the Cubs took the series at Principal Park.
The Redbirds came into the game 3-39 when being outhit by the opponent, but added two wins to their season total after combining for eight hits in the pair of games. The 2-0 victory also proved to be Memphis' ninth shutout of the season, tied for second-most in the Pacific Coast League. Finally, the pair of wins boosted the Redbirds' record (56-52) to four games above .500 for the first time this season.
Memphis got on the scoreboard in the earlier innings once again. The 'Birds jumped ahead in the first game when Shane Robinson led off with a single and eventually found his way home on a Scott Moore hit in the opening frame.
Moore then generated another RBI in the second inning when the third baseman drew a bases-loaded walk. The free pass allowed Pete Kozma to score. Stephen Piscotty followed Moore by notching his ninth hit this season with the bases loaded, a single up the middle that scored Robinson and Randal Grichuk. The hit improved the outfielder's average to .818 (9-for-11) with the bags packed and it gave the Redbirds all the runs they would need.
The Cubs took a stab at a comeback late in the game, scoring two on a Jorge Soler home run, but Eric Fornataro entered in relief and recorded his sixth save in his last nine appearances by posting five outs.
Marco Gonzales breezed through the first five frames, surrendering only two singles until the sixth. The left-hander managed 5.1 innings of work, allowing two runs with three walks and six strikeouts for his second win at Triple-A. Right-hander Dallas Beeler suffered the loss for the Cubs, giving up four runs over six innings.
The Birds shot out to an early lead in the top of the first in the series finale. Grichuk stepped in and blasted his third longball in the last seven games. It was the slugger's team-leading 20th homer and second of the series against Iowa after going yard in the opener.
The hit was the only one Memphis had until the fourth. It was all the pitching staff needed though.
With a 2.99 ERA in July coming into the day, the best in the Pacific Coast League for the month, the staff embraced the one-run advantage. Nick Greenwood made his fourth start of the season by throwing three innings with three hits. Dean Kiekhefer (W, 2-3) delivered 1.2 innings with three hits and Angel Castro struck out Javy Baez with runners on second and third to escape a jam in the fifth. Jorge Rondon acted as the anchor in the seventh and recorded his second saves in as many nights with a hitless frame.
Memphis tacked on one more in the fourth inning. Ed Easley led off with a single, Jermaine Curtis was hit by a pitch and Luis Mateo singled. With two away and the bases loaded, Tommy Pham reached on an error that allowed Easley to score.
The loss went to Iowa's Carlos Pimentel who dropped to 2-7 on the season. The Cubs tied a season-high five-game losing streak and were swept for the first time in 2014. They fell to 57-53 on the year.
Memphis will enjoy an off-day tomorrow before continuing their longest road trip of the season. They will begin a four-game set against the Omaha Storm Chasers at Werner Park on Tuesday. Left-hander Tyler Lyons (4-1, 4.56) will be opposed by Aaron Brooks (7-2, 3.84) in the opening game.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.