Mike Olt’s grand slam keyed a five-run third inning, backing the second quality start in a row for Dan Straily as the Iowa Cubs (63-56) defeated the Omaha Storm Chasers 7-4 on Tuesday afternoon at Werner Park. With the victory, Iowa takes a 1.5 game lead over Omaha in the PCL American North division. Iowa won the season series with Omaha 9-7 and moved to an impressive 28-7 in day games.
Going to the big third inning, the game was tied after the teams exchanged runs in the first. Iowa took a quick 1-0 lead when Jorge Soler doubled to center, scoring Kris Bryant who had singled. Omaha (60-56) posted an unearned run in the bottom of the first when an errant Dan Straily pickoff attempt allowed Johnny Giavotella to scamper home with the tying run.
In the third, Iowa loaded the bases off Omaha starter Buddy Baumann (1-3) on a walk to Matt Szczur, single by Logan Watkins, and a walk to Bryant. Soler followed, driving in his second run in as many at-bats with an RBI single to right. Olt then launched a 1-1 pitch deep over the left field wall for a grand slam. Olt extended his hitting streak to ten games on the blast. Olt is hitting .400 (16-for-40) with two home runs and 10 RBI over that stretch.
Iowa added another run to go up 7-1 in the fifth on Soler’s fourth home run for the Cubs. Soler , fresh off being named the Chicago Cubs organizational Player of the Month for July, finished 3-for-5 with 3 RBI and two runs scored, missing the cycle by a triple.
Straily (6-6) was in control all day for the Cubs, tossing seven innings without yielding an earned run (two unearned runs scored). Straily didn’t walk a batter and gave up six hits (five singles) while striking out nine. Straily has thrown 13 innings in his last two starts without giving up an earned run.
Omaha cut the lead to 7-4 in the eighth with the help of four walks by the Iowa bullpen. Alberto Cabrera came on with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, striking out Brian Bocock to end the threat.
Cabrera got into some trouble himself in the ninth, allowing two base runners. Zac Rosscup came in for Cabrera with two outs and coaxed Francisco Pena to fly out to center field to end the game. Rosscup picked up his fourth save for Iowa.
Szczur picked up an infield single in the eighth to keep his hitting streak alive. Szczur has hit in a season-high ten straight games.
After a day off on Wednesday, Iowa closes out its longest road trip of the season with five games against the Oklahoma City Redhawks before returning home to Principal Park on August 12.