COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. - West Michigan scored three second-inning runs, added late insurance and strolled past South Bend, 7-2, in Tuesday night's middle game at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The Cubs (29-28 second half, 58-66 overall) trimmed the deficit to one in the fifth but could not overtake the Whitecaps (33-24 second half, 66-60 overall), who leveled the series at a game apiece.
South Bend began the night four games behind West Michigan for second place in the Midwest League's Eastern Division.
South Bend starter Trevor Clifton allowed three runs on five hits and five walks in five innings. The right-hander added five punchouts.
West Michigan starter Artie Lewicki dealt seven innings and only gave up two runs, striking out nine. The righty faced the minimum and only allowed one hit through the first 4.1 innings. Lewicki retired 11 in a row before Cubs first baseman Gioskar Amaya smacked a single to the opposite field in the top of the fifth.
South Bend shortstop Gleyber Torres (2-for-4) collected two of the Cubs' five hits.
West Michigan took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second when third baseman Francisco Contreras slapped a two-run triple into the right-field corner. Contreras then scored and pushed the lead to 3-0 on a bunt by No. 9 hitter David Gonzalez.
With runners at first and second in the top of the fifth, Lewicki fired a wild pitch, and the Cubs put runners at second and third for center fielder Rashad Crawford. The left-hand hitter came through with a two-out, two-run single to right field to pull South Bend within one, 3-2.
The Whitecaps tacked on an insurance run in the home seventh when Cubs shortstop Gleyber Torres made a throwing error.
West Michigan right fielder Mike Gerber broke the game open in the eighth with a two-run triple to stretch the game to 6-2. Designated hitter Joey Pankake added an RBI ground-rule double three batters later.
South Bend and West Michigan conclude their three-game series Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan. Cubs left-hander Tommy Thorpe (3.45 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Whitecaps righty Spencer Turnbull (3.20 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.