Monday Minor League Notes

Struggles at the plate plagued much of the Cubs' farm system on Father's Day but there were some exceptions.<BR><BR> We begin our minor league report for this Monday with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs and the scorching-hot Brendan Harris.

AAA-Iowa Cubs

DES MOINES, Iowa - Five errors helped right-hander Sergio Mitre drop his first start of the year at Triple-A Iowa Sunday in a 5-0 loss to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Mitre (1-1) went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, striking out five and walking five. He also recorded one of five Iowa hits in the game.

Bill Selby's fielding error on a ground ball hit to first by Sky Sox leadoff man Brad Hawpe led to Colorado Springs' first run of the day. Sox shortstop Clint Barnes missed hitting for the cycle by only a triple. Barnes homered to lead off the eighth inning against Iowa reliever Jason Szuminski.

Sky Sox starter Denny Stark tossed six shutout innings, allowing all five of Iowa's hits. Former Cubs prospect Chris Gissell and right-hander Allan Simpson closed out the game in relief. The Iowa offense did not record a hit in the game's final 3+ innings. Infielder Brendan Harris, recently moved to shortstop, added a single. Harris missed the first month of the season after undergoing knee surgery and has now hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games. Jason Dubois, recently optioned to Iowa to make room for Sammy Sosa's return from the DL, is 0/7 in two starts with two strikeouts.

NOTES: Iowa has lost three straight to the Sky Sox, who go for the four-game sweep Monday night at 7:05 CT. Left-hander Shawn Sedlacek is expected to go for the Cubs. Colorado Springs now finds themselves just 3 1/2 behind Iowa for first place in the Pacific Coast League Central. With Albuquerque rallying past the Nashville Sounds (Pirates' AAA) late Sunday, the Isotopes are 2 1/2 behind the Cubs for the division lead.

AA-West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx

ZEBULON, N.C. - Chadd Blasko walked two batters in the sixth inning before turning the game over to right-hander Evan Fahrner and a Jaxx bullpen that proceeded to give up six runs in the next two innings, as the Carolina Mudcats rallied for an 8-4 win Sunday.

Blasko was charged with four runs in five and one-third innings. The Purdue University product struck out eight and walked three. He ran into trouble in the second inning, issuing solo homeruns to catcher Josh Willingham and center fielder Chip Ambres. After Blasko left in the sixth, left fielder Andy Rohleder drove a two-run double to the opposite field in right center to tie the game at four. Later in the inning, Billy Hall's RBI single to left put the Mudcats on top for good at 5-4.

Willingham stepped up in the seventh and homered again, this time off Fahrner after shortstop Josh Wilson struck out and reached first on a wild throw from catcher Paul O'Toole.

The Jaxx managed just three hits Sunday, all part of a four-run fourth inning. Michael Mallory hit a two-run single to left, and Blasko helped his case at the plate with an RBI single back up the middle. Wilson's fielding error at short would allow Dwaine Bacon to reach base safely, scoring Mallory.

NOTES: The Jaxx closed out the first half of the 2004 Southern League season at 37-32, two and a half back of division champion Mobile. The Jaxx return to action on Wednesday night against the Greenville Braves at 7:05 CT.

Class-A Daytona Cubs

VERO BEACH, Fla. - Nineteen-year-old Dodgers prospect Chad Billingsley beat the Daytona Cubs for the third time this month, tossing six scoreless innings and allowing just three hits while striking out nine as Vero Beach cruised to a 7-0 victory over the Cubs Sunday.

Left-hander Andy Sisco (1-5) failed to make it out of the third inning, surrendering six runs in the inning.

NOTES: Sisco is winless in his last eight starts and has not won since May 5. Sunday officially marked the end of the first half of Florida State League play. The league will be idle Monday before taking the field again Tuesday. The Cubs will host the Sarasota Red Sox at Jackie Robinson Park June 22-25. The series opener Tuesday night will be at 6:00 CT before a day game Wednesday at 11 AM ET.

Class Mid-A Lansing Lugnuts

LANSING, Mich. - Iowa's Brendan Harris isn't the only Cubs prospect on fire this month. Hot-hitting Brian Dopirak cracked a two-run walkoff homer to lift the Lansing Lugnuts over the Battle Creek Yankees Sunday in an 8-7 barnburner at Oldsmobile Park. Both bullpens were shaky as all but two of the game's 15 runs came in relief. Lansing right-hander Ronald Bay started and tossed six scoreless frames for the Lugnuts, striking out seven and walking two. Ryan Kalita and Juan Mateo each gave up three runs in one inning of relief apiece.

Hector Dade and top Yankees prospect Eric Duncan hit back-to-back doubles in the seventh to score three runs and give Battle Creek a 3-2 lead. The Lugnuts reclaimed the lead in the seesaw affair when Dopirak hit a two-run double to right center to put Lansing ahead, 4-3. In the eighth, Battle Creek answered for three more on catcher Omir Santos' RBI single to left and Enrique Cruz' two-run homerun.

Ahead 6-5 going into the eighth, Yankees reliever Matt Brumit got catcher Alan Rick to pop up to open the inning, but then allowed a single to first baseman Alberto Garcia before hitting third baseman Drew Larsen with a pitch. After a passed ball allowed both runners to advance 90 feet, Tony McQuade's RBI ground out scored Garcia to tie the game at 6-6.

Then in the ninth, Battle Creek took the lead again when right fielder Matt Carson doubled and scored with one out on DH John Urick's RBI single. Yankees closer Paul Thorp walked shortstop Carlos Rojas to lead off the ninth before allowing Dopirak's league-leading 20th homerun.

NOTES: Dopirak drove in four runs Sunday to finish the first half of the season with the league lead in both homeruns and RBIs (55). In his third year with the Cubs' farm system, the 20-year-old Crystal Beach, Fla. native has hit safely in 21 of his last 22 games. The Lugnuts have the next three days off to prepare for the 2004 Midwest League All-Star game at New Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Hand-picked as starters for the All-Star game were Lugnuts OF/IF Kevin Collins, 1B Brian Dopirak, and CF Chris Walker. Also making the trip to Cedar Rapids are pitchers Carlos Marmol, Adalberto Mendez, Billy Petrick and Clay Rapada, and catcher Jake Fox. Game time is set for approximately 7:00 CT. The Lugnuts resume play on Thursday night against the Dayton Dragons.

Class Low-A Boise Hawks

BOISE, Id. - Luis Montanez scored on a wild pitch in extra innings late Sunday to lift the Boise Hawks to their first win of the year in a 6-5 victory over Spokane. Montanez doubled to lead off the 10th inning and later advanced to third on a sac fly with one out. Indians pitcher Victor Figuereo threw two wild pitches in the inning and struggled with his control in an inning and a third pitched, walking four (one by way of the intentional pass).

Right-hander Luis Brito started and went five innings for the Hawks. He allowed three runs to score on six hits. Hot-hitting third baseman Travis Metcalf homered for the Indians off Brito, as did first baseman Jim Fasano. Montanez hit an RBI double as part of a three-run first inning off Indians starter Kevin Altman.

Kris Gross, the nephew of former White Sox general manager and Cubs assistant Ron Schueler, took the win in relief after "blowing" the save in the ninth inning. Gross (1-0) and the Hawks took a two-run lead into the ninth, but lost it when second baseman Anthony Granato dropped a pop fly in shallow right center with two outs and the runners on the move. Gross rebounded to pitch a scoreless 10th.

NOTES: Montanez is 5/11 with two doubles, a triple and three runs scored in the Hawks' first three games. He has started all three games in left field. Two Hawks players, third baseman Alfredo Francisco and shortstop Jose Rios, have yet to record a hit in the team's first three games. Boise now heads to Vancouver for a five-game series with the Canadians before returning home to face former Cubs Low-A affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds. Top 2003 Cubs draft pick Ryan Harvey will join the Hawks when the team returns from Vancouver, Cubs director of player development Oneri Fleita told CubsTalk on Friday.

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