Quad Cities (22-22) lost for the sixth time in their last seven games, falling back to the .500 mark for the first time since a win on April 25 improved their record to 7-7. West Michigan (29-15) scored seven of their eight runs with two outs, and six of those seven runs came home on rallies that started with two outs and the bases empty.
The River Bandits found themselves trailing early thanks to a big first inning by the Whitecaps. The speedy Gustavo Nunez led off with a liner over the first baseman that he legged out for a double. He moved to second on a groundout and than scored on a sacrifice fly by Iowa native Brandon Douglas.
With two outs and the bases empty, though, the rally was not done yet. Quad Cities starter Arquimedes Nieto promptly walked the next two men he faced, while Ben Guez followed with a towering fly ball that cleared the 317-foot fence down the left field line for a three-run homer and a 4-0 lead.
The River Bandits got on the board in the top of the second. Jairo Martinez led off with a single to center and advanced to third on a double by Paul Cruz with nobody out. But while Frederick Parejo was able to drive in Martinez on a one-out groundout, a single run was all Quad Cities could muster.
Meanwhile, West Michigan got that run right back in the bottom of the second and took a 5-1 lead into the sixth when another two-out, bases-empty rally put the game out of reach.
Piggyback starter Scott McGregor was strong to start his outing, retiring the first five batters he faced. But with two outs in the sixth, the Whitecaps rallied for five straight singles against the right-hander, including a two-run knock by Brent Wyatt - one of his four hits - and a run-scoring single from Ronnie Bourquin to stretch the lead to 8-1.
The River Bandits showed their heart by refusing to give up and adding three late runs. They sent eight men to the plate in the eighth inning, with a sacrifice fly by Charlie Cutler and an RBI-single from Martinez bringing Quad Cities to within five. Alex Castellanos led off the ninth with a double and scored on a double play ball, as Quad Cities pulled to within 8-4 before committing the game's last out.
Tigers' prospect Mauricio Robles (4-2) tossed a gem to earn the win for West Michigan, fanning seven over seven innings while allowing three runs on six hits. He pitched into the eighth before allowing two men to reach base and being removed from the game before they scored.
Nieto (1-3) suffered the loss for Quad Cities, yielding five runs on seven hits over four innings of work.
UP NEXT: The River Bandits continue a 10-game road stretch with a 10:00 a.m. CT first pitch on Wednesday against the West Michigan Whitecaps in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Quad Cities returns to Modern Woodmen Park on June 6 to kick off an eight-game homestand, the last of the first half.