Carlos Peguero’s two-run home run in the fourth keyed a four-run inning, leading the Omaha Storm Chasers (59-54) to a 6-2 victory over the Iowa Cubs (61-55) on Saturday night at Werner Park. With the win, Omaha closes to within .5 games of division-leading Iowa in the PCL American North division.
Omaha mounted a two-out rally in the fourth that proved to be the difference in the game. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Iowa starter Dallas Beeler yielded a triple to Whit Merrifield. Merrifield scored the first run of the game when Pedro Ciriaco singled to center. Paulo Orlando followed with the second triple of the inning, scoring Ciriaco, leading to the two-run blast by Peguero.
Iowa pushed across its first run of the game in the sixth when Josh Vitters homered for the second time in as many days. Vitters’ 11th home run came off former teammate Casey Coleman who took over for Omaha starter Chris Dwyer (2-3). Iowa proceeded to load the bases with one out when Javier Baez and Rafael Lopez sandwiched walks around a Kris Bryant single. After the walk to Lopez, Tim Collins took over for Coleman and struck out both Ryan Kalish and Elliot Soto to end the threat.
Down 5-1 in the eighth, Lopez singled to left, scoring Bryant to cut the lead to 5-2 but that is a close as Iowa would get.
Beeler (7-5) had a rough night, tossing six innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and one walk, striking out four.
Matt Szczur picked up two hits for Iowa in the loss.
Game two of the four game series is Sunday at Werner Park.
NOTES: On Friday, the Chicago Cubs selected the contract of Chris Valaika from Iowa. Valaika took the spot of Emilio Bonafacio who was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with reliever James Russell. Elliot Soto joins Iowa from double-A Tennessee where he hit .246 in 40 games with the Smokies. Valaika was in the starting lineup for the Cubs on Saturday against the Dodgers. Valaika played third and singled up the middle in his first at-bat.