The Iowa Cubs erupted for six runs in the second inning, and the big rally paved the way for a 7-4 win over the Oklahoma City RedHawks Friday night at Principal Park.
The RedHawks (48-48) have now lost five of their last six games and have fallen to .500 for the first time this season since they were 2-2. The loss also put them three games behind Iowa (50-44) for first place in the American Northern Division.
The RedHawks wasted no time getting on the board in the first inning. Austin Wates led off the game with a single, and was sacrificed to second base by Ronny Torreyes. After Wates stole third base, he scored on a RBI single by Domingo Santana.
Iowa would answer with a run in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Logan Watkins doubled and then stole third. Watkins later scored on RBI groundout by Javy Baez to make it 1-1.
Chris Valaika broke the tie and started Iowa’s huge second inning with a two-run homer to center field.
With the bases loaded and one out, Watkins hit a bases-clearing double to left-center field. Baez followed with a RBI double to deep center field, completing the six-run rally.
Down 7-1, the RedHawks scored a run on a double play in the fifth, ending the run of seven straight runs by the I-Cubs.
The RedHawks only put one runner on base over the next three innings, but would score twice in the ninth inning. With runners at second and third with one out, Jonathan Villar hit a two-run single to left field to make it 7-4.
The tying run would not make it to the plate, as Iowa reliever Alberto Cabrera followed up Villar’s single by getting Carlos Perez to hit into a game-ending double play.
Iowa starting pitcher Chris Rusin earned his third win in as many starts, tossing seven strong innings. Rusin (7-10) allowed two runs and five hits and set a new season high with nine strikeouts.
In his first eight games with the RedHawks this season, pitcher Paul Clemens had allowed just six runs over 31 innings. On Friday he allowed seven runs on five hits over a season-high six innings. Clemens (4-1) issued five walks, three of which would come around and score. He also struck out five.
The RedHawks and I-Cubs will play a day-night doubleheader Saturday at Principal Park, with start times of 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.