COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. - South Bend starter Tommy Thorpe worked a career-high seven innings, but West Michigan struck for three runs in the eighth to catapult past the Cubs, 4-3, in the rubber game Wednesday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
South Bend (29-29 second half, 58-67 overall) led 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth, but West Michigan left fielder Christin Stewart clocked a three-run triple to give the Whitecaps (35-23 second half, 68-59 overall) a lead they would not relinquish and the series win. The Cubs are now six games behind West Michigan for second place-and a wild-card spot-in the Midwest League's Eastern Division.
Thorpe allowed just one hit through the first five innings before Whitecaps shortstop A.J. Simcox slapped a single to right field in the sixth. In total, the left-hander gave up just one unearned run on two hits and three walks over the seven innings. In his last seven starts since coming off the disabled list in July, Thorpe has tallied a 1.76 ERA.
Seven different Cubs recorded one hit apiece, while designated hitter Charcer Burks coaxed three walks.
In the top of the first, Cubs left fielder Ian Happ laced an RBI triple down the right-field line to score leadoff man Jeffrey Baez, who singled, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. Happ later scored from third on a balk by Whitecaps starter Spencer Turnbull to stretch the lead to 2-0.
With the bases loaded and one out in the home sixth, West Michigan left fielder Christin Stewart lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to reel in Simcox and pull the Whitecaps within one, 2-1. But Thorpe escaped further trouble by inducing a groundout to short.
In the seventh, South Bend grabbed the run right back, as catcher Erick Castillo cracked an RBI single up the middle to score third baseman Vimael Machin, who led off the frame with a double down the left-field line.
Cubs reliever Alexander Santana issued three consecutive one-out walks in the eighth, and Stewart cashed in.
Whitecaps reliever Joe Jimenez collected three strikeouts and retired all six batters he faced to close the game.
South Bend returns home to Four Winds Field on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET to welcome Great Lakes for a three-game series. Cubs right-hander James Norwood (4.26 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Loons righty Isaac Anderson (1.80 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.