Cubs Minor League Notebook: June 26

Sunday's farm system action was highlighted by explosive offense from the Double-A level on down. Meanwhile for the Triple-A Cubs, the lead in the PCL Central decreased rapidly.

AAA-Iowa Cubs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Col. - The second inning was most torturous to the Iowa Cubs Sunday, as the Colorado Springs Sky Sox used a doubleheader sweep to shorten the Cubs' lead in the Pacific Coast League's Central Division to just two games. In the opener, Colorado jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning, thanks to a three-run double by Rene Reyes as part of an eight-run Colorado inning off left-hander Nate Bland. Bland (6-4) was pitching in relief of right-hander Sergio Mitre, who got the call Saturday night when game one of the doubleheader originally kicked off.

Sox right fielder Brad Hawpe drew a bases loaded full count walk before Reyes' three-run double put things out of reach early. Hawpe laced a two-run single earlier in the first off Bland, and also singled to open the fourth inning against right-hander Ryan Dempster. Dempster struck out one and scattered two hits over the course of two innings. Former Cub Chris Gissell (9-1) picked up the win after tossing six innings and allowing four runs on eight hits. Gissell, once considered a top pitching prospect in the Cubs' system, spent seven seasons with the Chicago farm, including the 2002 season at Iowa.

In the finale of the twinbill, the Sox again routed Iowa pitching for eight second inning runs to put the game out of reach early. Left-hander John Koronka made his shortest outing of the season, giving up all eight runs on nine hits in an inning and two-thirds. Koronka (7-8) also gave up a solo homerun to Reyes, RBI doubles to Clint Barmes and Choo Freeman, and threw a wild pitch.

Jason Dubois hit a two-run first inning homer to give Iowa their only lead of the day. David Kelton also homered in the nightcap for the Cubs. It was his 13th of the season. Kelton is batting just .192 for the month of July. Francis Beltran made his first appearance at Triple-A since being sent down from the parent club earlier this week. Beltran struck out two of the three batters he faced in one inning of work.

The Cubs and Sky Sox play a second doubleheader Monday. A Colorado sweep would move the Sox into a dead-locked first place tie with Iowa atop the Central division.

AA-West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Richard Lewis hit a three-run homer as part of an 8-2 West Tennessee rout of the struggling Montgomery Biscuits Sunday. Jaxx starter Ricky Nolasco and right-hander Nathan Mitchell (3-3) combined to work the first seven innings in relief, giving up just one run on three hits total. Jermaine Van Buren once again closed things out in the ninth, tossing a scoreless inning of relief.

Ronny Cedeno also homered and collected three hits on the evening. It was the 20th multi-hit game for the 21-year-old infielder. Mike Prochaska started and picked up the loss for Montgomery. Prochaska (2-7) gave up five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings en route to the loss. Meanwhile, Van Buren's inning in relief was his 35th total this season while at Double-A. Of those 35 games, he has allowed a run in only three contests.

The Jaxx are now 14-14 on the second half of Southern League play, two games back of first place Birmingham and Huntsville.

Class-A Daytona Cubs

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - J.J. Johnson hit a two-run homerun and a three-run triple to help the Daytona Cubs rout the Brevard County Manatees Sunday, 15-3. It was Johnson's fourth homerun of the year--all of them coming at Jackie Robinson Park. Anderson Tavarez picked up his fourth win for the Cubs, giving up three runs in five innings. Tavarez (4-4) struck out and walked three for his first win in six tries at "The Jack" this season.

Casey McGehee also joined in on the fun, adding a two-run homer and two-run single to the mix. Brandon Sing chipped in with an RBI single to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Left-hander Jordan Gerk re-debuted for the Cubs and faced seven batters, giving up one hit and striking out two in two innings.

The Cubs now hit the road until August 1. The team has Monday off before traveling to Tampa for a four-game series with the Yankees starting Tuesday.

Class Mid-A Lansing Lugnuts

LANSING, Mich. - The Dayton Dragons tagged Lugnuts starter Justin Jones and reliever Yorkin Ferreras for seven runs on six hits in the fifth and sixth innings Sunday to rally for an 8-4 victory at Olds Park in Lansing. Jones started and had a no-hitter with a 4-0 lead through four innings before allowing four consecutive hits to open the fifth. Coby Strait doubled down the right field line to open the inning before Habelito Hernandez doubled, and Jeff Urgelles and Tiago Campos added singles. Later that inning, Luis Bolivar and Dragons slugger Joey Votto added RBI singles to make it 4-4 before Jones was relieved.

In the sixth, Strait and Hernandez reached base once again before Votto doubled to left field, and Chris Dickerson added an RBI single to make it 7-4 off losing pitcher Ferreras (0-1).

Right-hander Sam Fischer made his fifth appearance in Lansing since being promoted from Low-A Boise, and struck out the side in the sixth inning. Then in the seventh, Fischer walked the bases loaded and gave up a run when Juan Mateo got Dickerson to hit a sacrifice fly to straight away center. Fischer has averaged over a strikeout per inning this season with 27 K's in 22 innings.

Brian Dopirak added an RBI single in the third inning. For Dopirak, it was his 53rd run batted in at Olds Park this season--some twenty more than his road RBI totals.

Tony McQuade's 14-game hitting streak came to an end on Friday night, but the center fielder has still hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games.

The 'nuts host Dayton again Monday at 6:05 CT at Olds Park. They are 15-15 on the second half of the Midwest League season, four games back of first place Fort Wayne.

Class Low-A Boise Hawks

KEIZER, Ore. - Matt Weber tossed five solid innings, giving up just one run on four hits Sunday as the Boise Hawks snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. For Weber (2-1), it was the sixth time in seven starts the right-hander has at least qualified for a victory. He faced 22 hitters Sunday night and allowed only six to reach base.

New Hawk Preston Griffin, a UCLA alum, added a two-run double as part of a three-run Boise fourth. Right-hander Kris Gross worked the ninth for his fifth save. The Hawks meet the Volcanoes again Monday at 8:35 CT with LHP Darin Downs going for Boise.

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