Ryan Verdugo and two relievers combined on a six-hitter as Omaha blanked Iowa, 3-0, Thursday night in the second of five meetings at Principal Park. The Storm Chasers lifted their record to 56-32 with their seventh straight win over the Cubs, who have dropped 18 of their last 24 contests.
The Chasers started the scoring for a third straight night when David Lough slugged a solo home run with two outs in the second inning off Iowa starter Brooks Raley. Omaha missed out on a chance to add to the lead in the sixth by stranding Wil Myers at third base with one out but did take advantage of a scoring opportunity in the seventh to create a little separation.
Max Ramirez opened the frame with a walk and moved up when Raley made an errant throw to second base on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Derrick Robinson, who reached first base. Kevin Kouzmanoff then dropped down a bunt to advance the runners but they could not score when Chris Getz fouled out. However, Johnny Giavotella came through with a base hit to right field to deliver both runners to push the lead to three and knock the southpaw out of the game. Raley suffered the loss after allowing the three runs, although only one was earned, on five hits over his 6 2/3 innings during which he walked three and struck out four.
Verdugo yielded three straight singles with two outs in the third but got Josh Vitters to fly out to deep right field to end the inning and then didn't permit another runner to advance past first base over the next three frames. He allowed four hits, walked two and struck out six in his first start in 15 days to earn his sixth win of the season.
Jeremy Jeffress followed with two innings of work during which he gave up two singles and recorded a strikeout before turning things over to Brandon Sisk, who earned his team-best eighth save of the season. The two hurlers have tossed 15 1/3 scoreless innings over their last 11 combined appearances.
The series continues Friday night with Omaha left-hander Will Smith making the start against Iowa right-hander Casey Coleman. Coverage of the game begins at 6:45 pm and can be heard locally on 1180 Zone Two, The Deuce and online at omahastormchasers.com.