New Orleans built a six-run lead by the third inning and held off the Iowa Cubs in Tuesday’s series opener at Zephyr Field, winning its second consecutive game.
“(The early lead) was real key,” Zephyrs manager Arnie Beyeler said. “We haven’t done that a lot. When you get a lead, it’s nice to work off of.
“We didn’t pitch well in the middle innings, but fortunately (relievers) made some big pitches when he had to.”
For the second consecutive game, the Zephyrs (5-8) scored in the first inning, with right fielder Destin Hood’s three-run homer giving the Z’s a 3-0 lead.
Center fielder Ken Wilson’s double in the second brought home Tomas Telis and Elliot Soto. And in the third, Hood scored on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Robert Andino, pushing the lead to 6-0.
In the top of the fourth, Iowa scored the first runs against Zephyrs pitching in 15 innings to cut the lead to 6-2. The big hits were a leadoff triple by Asrismendy Alcantara and a one-out double.
The Cubs scored three runs on one hit in the sixth to come to 7-5.
However, reliever Eric Jokisch allowed one hit over two innings, and Andre Rienzo pitched the ninth for the save.
With his first-inning home run Tuesday, Zephyrs outfielder Destin Hood remained hot against the Cubs.
In the Z’s series at Iowa on April 10-14, Hood went 7-for-14 with a home run and three RBIs. In his first three games against the Cubs, he went 2-for-4, 2-for-3 in the Z’s 4-2 win and 2-for-5. He came into the series batting .167 but left hitting .348 and on a five-game hitting streak.
Hood, 26, is from Mobile, Alabama, and as a high school senior in 2008 signed to play football and baseball at Alabama. However, he was drafted by the Washington Nationals.
Iowa catcher Willson Contreras, 23, is the No. 2 prospect in the parent Chicago Cubs’ system. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in December, 2009, from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.
He came into Zephyr Field batting .429. However, the Zephyrs had a lot to do with that. In the teams’ first series this season, Contreras went 7-for-13 (.528) with four RBIs. He has developed as a hitter, and better discipline at the plate is said to be the primary reason.
Contreras was signed as a third baseman but was converted to catcher and has thrived. Quick, athletic and with a strong arm, he has developed the reputation of being able to to stop teams from stealing bases. However, in the fourth inning, the Zephyrs’ Kenny Wilson stole second as Contreras’ throw sailed into center field.
Iowa was playing a game for the first time since Saturday. Its game Sunday at Round Rock was postponed because of rain, and Monday’s game was suspended because of wet grounds. In busing to New Orleans after the game was called, the Cubs had to take alternate routes because of flooding and didn’t get to New Orleans until 6 a.m. Tuesday. … Infielder Austin Nola and outfielder Isaac Galloway were rested Tuesday. Nola came into the homestand batting .172 after the Z’s eight-game road trip to start the season but is on a five-game hitting streak, tying his longest in Triple-A, which took place last July 27-31 after being called up from Double-A Jacksonville. He went 1-for-3 in all four games against Omaha, lifting his average to .220.
— Darrell Williams