Dodgers Drop Duo of Heartbreakers
Des Moines, Iowa - The Iowa Cubs edged the Oklahoma City Dodgers in a pair of close games Wednesday at Principal Park to sweep a doubleheader, taking the first game, 1-0, and then walking off with a 3-2 win in the nightcap.
After Sunday's win over Colorado Springs put the Dodgers 1.5 games ahead in first place in the American Northern Division, they have since proceeded to lose four straight games while scoring a total of five runs. The Sky Sox also played two games Wednesday in Omaha and won both, putting the Dodgers 2.5 games back of first place with just six games remaining in the regular season.
In the first game of the day, the I-Cubs (50-85) threatened to score right away the in first inning, putting runners at second and third with none out. Dodgers starting pitcher Justin DeFratus then struck out the next two batters to avert the early threat.
After the first two batters for Iowa reached base, DeFratus then proceeded to retire the next 12 in a row before he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning. He ended up pitching four scoreless innings, with one hit, one walk and five strikeouts.
The Dodgers (70-64) were held to one hit through four innings against Trevor Clifton as the game remained scoreless. In the fifth, OKC put runners at the corners with one out, but Clifton struck out Edwin Ríos and got Alex Verdugo to fly out and end the inning.
After the Dodgers missed a chance to score, the I-Cubs converted in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Mark Zagunis led off with a walk and advanced to second base on a wild pitch by Manny Bañuelos. Zagunis tagged and advanced to third on a flyout to deep right field and then scored on a RBI double by Jacob Hannemann, giving Iowa a 1-0 lead.
The Dodgers never threatened to tie the game after Iowa went ahead, going down in order in both the sixth and seventh innings. OKC ended up outhitting Iowa in the game, 4-3, but the Dodgers ended up getting shutout for the second time in three games and for the ninth time this season.
Clifton (4-3) earned the win with five scoreless frames. He allowed four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Dillon Maples recorded the game's final out for his 10th save.
Bañuelos (8-7) retired just one of five batters faced and took the loss.
As was the case in the first game, the second game was in a scoreless deadlock until the fifth inning. The Dodgers were held to just one hit through their first four trips to the plate, and although the I-Cubs tallied four hits during the same time, Dodgers starting pitcher Zach Neal kept them off the board.
The Dodgers scored for the first time on the day in the fifth inning. Kyle Garlick led off with a double, and later in the inning, Travis Taijeron and Rocky Gale knocked back-to-back RBI singles to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Iowa put runners at second and third with none out, prompting a pitching change. Steston Allie relieved Neal and struck out the next two batters. Mike Freeman came up next and sent a routine fly ball to shallow field that should have ended the inning. But Verdugo dropped the ball, resulting in both runs scoring to tie the game.
Still tied, 2-2, in the top of the seventh, the Dodgers put runners at the corners with one out. Pinch hitter Kyle Farmer struck out, and after Verdugo drew a walk to load the bases, Tim Locastro struck out to end the inning.
After having the bases empty with two outs in the home half of the inning, Iowa rallied to win the game. Freeman got it started with a single, and Ryan Court followed with a walk.
Jason Vosler came up next, and facing a 0-2 count, hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield. Jake Peter ranged far to his right, but could not come up with the ball cleanly, deflecting it toward the outfield. Freeman headed home and beat Peter's throw to score the game-winning run.
Iowa reliever Dakota Mekkes (1-0) escaped the jam in the top of the seventh inning and earned the win. Dodgers reliever Brian Schlitter (6-2) took the loss.
The Dodgers will try and avoid a series sweep at Principal Park during a Thursday matinee beginning at 12:08 p.m. Live radio coverage begins 15 minutes before first pitch on AM 1340 "The Game," 1340thegame.com, or through the free iHeartRadio mobile app.
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