Zephyrs edge Cubs

Zephyrs 6, Cubs 5

The victory on Wednesday at Zephyr Field gave New Orleans the series, two games to one, the first time since June 14-17 at Nashville that the Z’s have taken a series.

The Zephyrs (45-48) led 1-0 in the second inning and scored three runs when errors were committed by pitcher Nick Struck (5-6) and left fielder Ty Wright on Z’s pitcher Jarred Wright’s (4-2) sacrifice bunt. That enabled runners Kyle Skipworth and Chris Gutierrez as well as Rogers to score. Kevin Mattison later scored on Gil Velazquez’s sacrifice fly, giving the Z’s a 5-0 lead.

Iowa (47-47) cut the lead to 5-3 in the third, but Kyle Jensen homered in the bottom of the inning.

With the score 6-4 in the eighth, Jonathan Albaldejo struck out the final two batters with the bases loaded. Chris Hatcher gave up a run in the ninth but got his 25th save.

THURSDAY’S GAME

WHAT: New Orleans Zephyrs at Oklahoma City RedHawks

WHERE: Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark

WHEN: 7:05 p.m.

PROBABLE PITCHERS: Zephyrs LH Brian Flynn (2-9, 3.91 ERA) vs. RedHawks RH Jake Buchanan (1-1, 4.09)

BROADCAST: WMTI-FM 106.1

PROSPECT

Relief pitcher Adam Reifer was assigned to the Zephyrs on May 28 after being signed by the Miami Marlins.

Reifer, 27, was considered a promising prospect by the St. Louis Cardinals but finished last season with a 4.90 ERA with the Pacific Coast League’s Memphis Redbirds. The Cardinals released him on March 22.

However, since coming to the Z’s, he has allowed just two earned runs over 21.2 innings spanning 14 games, an ERA of 0.84. He has held opponents to 5-for-62 hitting (.081).

He has not given up an extra-base hit this season. Also, no opponent has led off an inning with a hit against him, with batters going 0-for-14 to start an inning. He has allowed more than one hit in any appearance.

EXTRA BASES

Flynn was scheduled to pitch Wednesday in the series finale against Iowa but was switched to the opener against Oklahoma City, an American South foe and a better hitting team than the Cubs. … The Zephyrs will play five games at Oklahoma City, with the All-Star break lasting from Monday to Wednesday. The Zephyrs and RedHawks will play a doubleheader Friday, with the first game being the makeup of Sunday’s rained out game at Zephyr Field in what was to be the series finale. Jared Rogers, who pitched Wednesday vs. Iowa, was scheduled to start that game. … The Z’s 9-0 win over Iowa on Tuesday was the largest home margin of victory since beating Oklahoma City 11-1 on July 5, 2012.

The nine runs scored in the Z’s shutout victory against Iowa on Tuesday night were their most since a 10-5 win at Iowa on June 3. The 15 hits the Z’s got in the game were a season-high. … Pitcher Doug Mathis has allowed just one run in 31 innings over his past five home games. Tuesday’s game is one that might stick with Mathis, who pitched a two-hitter. The Z’s gave him a 3-0 lead by the third inning, and that relaxed him, he said. “I got some confidence and was able to go right at them,” said Mathis, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scord and an RB. “I was just trying to make contact, and it worked out,” he said. “I take batting practice, but I’m not up there swinging hard like those other guys.” … Manager Ron Hassey had seemed noticeably frustrated after Monday’s loss to Iowa in which the Z’s got only four hits. Although the Z’s are near or at the bottom of several offensive stats, Hassey said things had taken a turn for the worst in the three weeks. The Zephyrs had batted .168 in the first five games of July. “I’m going to play the guys who are hitting the ball,” he said Monday. On Tuesday, after the Z’s pounded the Cubs, Hassey was understandably much happier. One player, outfielder Kevin Mattison, had gone 0-for-21 with 14 strikeouts before hitting an RBI triple in the fourth inning. “We work in the (batting) cage and we talk about hitting all the time, and I think these guys figured it out that they need to work together as one,” he said. Hassey was optimistic the performance might be the start of a turnaround at the plate. “Hopefully, something might pop for us, especially with a tough series ahead up at Oklahoma City.” Even during the poor hitting streak, though, the Z’s had begun to show some pop in their bats, hitting a homer in six consecutive games, a season high, through Tuesday. … Oklahoma City’s Josh Zeid, who pitched at Tulane, has 10 saves this season. Four are against the Zephyrs and have come since June 18, the day before he became the team’s closer.

Darrell Williams