The Memphis Redbirds (64-69) scored two runs in the top of the ninth to grab a 4-3 victory over the Iowa Cubs (59-74) on Thursday at Principal Park. The defeat all but eliminates Iowa from playoff contention, trailing the Omaha Storm Chasers by seven games with only 11 left to play.
Brian Schlitter blew the save opportunity for Iowa for the first time, breaking a streak of 18 saves in 18 opportunities in an I-Cubs uniform his season. Schlitter was uncharacteristically wild, walking two Redbirds in the ninth inning, one of which scored what would prove to be the decisive run.
Memphis took a 2-0 lead off Iowa starter Justin Grimm on single runs in the first and fourth innings.
Iowa cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth on a Dave Sappelt blast to left, his fourth home run of the season for Iowa.
The I-Cubs would tie the game at 2-2 in the fifth on a Tim Torres RBI single to right, scoring Jae-Hoon Ha who had singled earlier in the inning.
Ha made what was, at the time, a game-saving play in the sixth. With runners on first and second with two outs, Memphis center fielder Justin Christian launched a ball deep to left center field. What appeared to be an easy two-run double ended up being speared by Ha with a leaping catch that could be considered the defensive play of the year for Iowa.
Iowa took the lead in the eighth when pinch-hitter Ty Wright singled through a drawn in infield, giving Iowa a 3-2 lead.
In the ninth, an RBI single by Memphis catcher Travis Tartamella tied the game at three. With runners on first and third, Memphis pinch-hitter Chad Huffman popped a ball up to short center field. Iowa shortstop Tim Torres caught the ball while backpedaling and Christian was able to score from third on a sacrifice fly with the winning run.
Game three of the five game series is Friday night at Principal Park.