Express fall 3-2, split series with Iowa Cubs

Ryan Haddox

The Round Rock Express lost 3-2 to the Iowa Cubs Monday night, capping a four-game series that saw the teams take two wins apiece.

The Express drew first blood in the bottom of the second with a sacrifice fly from third basemen Tommy Mendonca, giving the Express a brief lead before heading into the third. Express starter and top Rangers pitching prospect Martin Perez threw a strong 5 2/3 innings, but the defense behind him did him no favors. Perez only allowed two hits in his outing, but the four errors behind him, two by Mendonca on consecutive plays, allowed two unearned runs to be scored in the top of the third, and the Cubs would not forfeit the lead. Facing a 3-2 deficit in the bottom of the ninth, Express outfielder Joey Butler singled to start the inning. Second baseman Greg Miclat walked with two outs, moving the tying run into scoring position for former Rangers center fielder Julio Borbon. However, Cubs relief pitcher Blake Parker slammed the door on the Express rally by striking out Borbon, concluding the seventh straight one-run game for the Express.

The series kicked off Friday with Omaha taking the opener in what would become a series of nail-biters. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo belted his fourth and fifth home runs of the season, and Iowa took a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, the Express tried desperately to mount a late comeback, thanks in large part to total loss of the strike zone from the Cub’s pitching staff. Three walks and two hit-by-pitches scored the first run of the inning, and the Express would tack on two more runs before falling short on a Leonys Martin fly out with the tying run 90 feet away.

Saturday was the night of the Express outfielders as Borbon, Martin and Butler combined to go 7-for-12 with a home run and three RBIs in the Express’ first home victory of the young season. Express starter Zach Jackson went five innings, allowing 10 hits and four earned runs in the seesaw battle that saw the Express score three runs in the bottom of the seventh, giving them a lead they would not relinquish and snapping their six game losing streak.

Sunday afternoon presented the Round Rock faithful with free baseball as the Express went to extra innings for the second time of the season. Opening day starter Mark Hamburger had a rough outing as he gave up 12 hits and seven earned runs in only 2/3 innings. The Express clawed back in the bottom of the second, scoring four runs of their own.

Martin continued his hot start at the plate, doubling to right field and plating two runs. Brad Nelson tacked on a two out single and the Express had dug themselves out of the early hole. After trading runs down the stretch, the ninth inning ended with the teams tied at 10 runs apiece, and on to extras they went. The Express won the game in the bottom of the 13th with a sacrifice fly from Matt Kata that scored Luis Hernandez who had singled to lead off
the inning.

After the loss on Monday, the Express saw their record fall to 4-8, good for a tie in last place with the Albuquerque Isotopes and five games back of the American Southern Division leading New Orleans Zephyrs.

Round Rock begins a new series Tuesday, matching up with the Omaha Storm Chasers who swept a four game series with the Express just a week ago. Neil Ramirez, who has a 5.00 ERA in nine innings this season, gets the start on the mound for the Express.

Published on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 as: Express fall to Iowa tied fro last after 7th straight 1-run game