The Iowa Cubs jumped out to an early four-run lead and were able to escape a few late jams to hold on and beat the Oklahoma City RedHawks 5-4 before 6,716 at Principal Park Friday night.
The start of the game was delayed 55 minutes due to light rain. Once play began, it wasn't long before the first run scored, as Jonathan Villar hit the second pitch of the game for a home run to put the RedHawks in the lead.
The Cubs (20-25) responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning, all coming with two outs. With two men on, RedHawks pitcher Brad Peacock walked the next three hitters, including bases loaded walks to Ian Stewart and Darnell McDonald. J.C. Boscan then followed with a two-run single to make it 4-1.
In the bottom of the third inning Josh Vitters hit a towering home run to left field to extend Iowa's lead to 5-1. All three of Vitters' home runs this season have come over his four games against Oklahoma City.
The home run was one of Peacock's few missteps after the rough first inning. Although he picked up the loss, Peacock (1-2) rebounded nicely and retired 15 of the final 17 hitters he faced after Boscan's two-run single.
After throwing 34 pitches in the first inning, Peacock was able to battle through 5.2 innings, saving the bullpen and keeping the RedHawks in the game. He finished with eight strikeouts.
Following Peacock's exit, Josh Zeid and Alex Sogard combined to toss 2.1 scoreless and hitless innings. The I-Cubs had just one hit after the first inning and none after Vitters' home run. The trio of pitchers also combined for 12 strikeouts.
The RedHawks scored twice in the sixth. Brandon Laird led off with a solo home run to center field, and Carlos Perez hit a sac fly later in the inning. With runners at second and third and two away, Villar flied out to the warning track in center field to end the inning.
In the seventh, the RedHawks loaded the bases with none out. Fernando Martinez hit a ball that was caught about two feet in front of the wall in center field, bringing home a run on a sac fly.
Marc Krauss followed with a walk to load the bases again, but Hisanori Takahashi got Che-Hsuan Lin to pop out and Andy Simunic to strike out to end the inning.
The RedHawks had another good chance to tie the game in the eighth. Perez led off with a double and advanced to third on a groundout by Villar. Zach Putnam escaped the jam by striking out Jake Elmore and getting Brett Wallace to ground out.
Putnam walked Martinez with one out in the ninth, but on the next pitch Krauss hit into a double play to end the game as Putnam collected his third save.
Iowa starting pitcher Nick Struck earned his third win in as many starts. Struck (3-3) allowed three runs and six hits over 5.1 innings. He set a season high with five walks and struck out four.
The RedHawks tied a season high for a nine inning game by drawing nine walks.
The RedHawks and Cubs resume their series Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.