Dallas Beeler fired seven scoreless innings and the Iowa Cubs hit two home runs to pave the way to a 3-0 win over the Oklahoma City RedHawks Saturday night at Principal Park.
After winning five straight, the RedHawks (74-68) have lost the first two games of their series against the I-Cubs (72-70), and Saturday's loss dropped the RedHawks out of first place. Earlier Saturday, the Omaha Storm Chasers overcame a five-run deficit to beat the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, moving the Storm Chasers atop the American Northern Division. With two games remaining, the RedHawks are now a half-game behind Omaha.
In the span of one week, the RedHawks have gone from two games behind the Storm Chasers, to two games ahead, and now back to trailing Omaha by a half-game.
Beeler (9-6) combined with two relievers to collect Iowa's 15th shutout of the season. He tied his season high with seven innings, limiting the RedHawks to four singles. Beeler finished with four strikeouts and three walks.
Armando Rivero kept the RedHawks scoreless in the eighth. After allowing the first two men of the ninth inning to reach base, Blake Parker retired the next three batters to collect his league-leading 25th save of the season.
The RedHawks finished with six hits, all singles. They continued to struggle with runner in scoring position, going 1-for-8. Through the first two games of the series, the RedHawks are 4-for-23 with runners in scoring position and have left 23 runners on base, including 14 in scoring position.
Only one RedHawk advanced as far as third base Saturday night, as the RedHawks were shutout for the eighth time this season.
The RedHawks and I-Cubs played scoreless baseball through the first four innings. Both teams made several tremendous defensive plays to keep the other off the board.
Iowa had the best chance to score early on, putting runners at second and third with none out in the third inning. After Elliot Soto struck out, Ryan Kalish sent a sharp line drive to second base. Joe Sclafani made a leaping catch and then threw to third base. The throw was low, but was dug out by Ronny Torreyes in time to double off Jae-Hoon Ha and complete an inning-ending double play.
Jonathan Mota broke the scoreless tie when he led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo home run to left field.
Iowa maintained a 1-0 lead until the eighth, when Kalish hit a two-run homer to center field. Three of Kalish's seven home runs this season have been against the RedHawks.
Starting pitcher Luis Cruz gave the RedHawks his best outing since his promotion to Triple-A, but he took a tough loss after receiving no run support. Cruz (1-2) allowed one run and six hits over six-plus innings. The lefty struck out seven Iowa batters and walked one.
The RedHawks will need to win Sunday afternoon to stay in playoff contention when they meet Iowa at 1:05 pm.