July 4th Fireworks

This Fourth of July featured many fireworks on the Cubs' minor league circuit ... depending on which team you were for.

Iowa Notes

Iowa was routed 12-2 by Round Rock on Monday. Starter Jon Leicester allowed eight runs on eight hits in four innings—far and away his worst outing this season. Entering play, Leicester (1-3, 6.38 ERA) had surrendered no more than three runs in any of his previous 13 appearances. The Iowa offense wasn't of much help, either. OFs Ben Grieve and David Kelton provided the only "fireworks" as the only Cub players to collect two hits, and the team tallied only one extra base hit. Kelton ended June on a fairly high note following his slow start to the month. He is 5-for-11 in his first four games in July and is batting .283 for the year. Grieve is batting .253 in 44 games at Iowa and is 3 for his last 13.

West Tenn Notes

West Tenn built a 10-0 lead by the third inning and went on to clobber Tennessee 14-1. 3B Casey McGehee and 1B Matt Craig led the attack with a combined nine hits, and both drove in four runs apiece. McGehee finished with five hits and now has 10 hits and seven RBIs in his last three games. The Southern League all-star is off to a 10-for-20 start to the month and is batting .323 for the season. Craig meanwhile tallied four hits in as many at-bats and now has three multi-hit games in the past week. With his performance on Monday night, the switch-hitting Craig raised his average 14 points to .282 for the season.

RHP Ricky Nolasco went the distance, allowing just four hits to go with six strikeouts for the win. Nolasco (8-0, 2.71 ERA) has not lost since September 5 of last year, when he faced the Greenville Braves. On Monday, he threw his first complete game since August 8, 2003.

Daytona Notes

Daytona's losing streak reached six games with an 8-3 loss to Brevard County despite the Cubs totaling 13 hits. 1B Brian Dopirak ended a 1-for-18 slump with two hits, just his second multi-hit game since June 23 to bring his average to .247. 3B Scott Moore recorded his first two-hit game since June 20. This year's all-star selection had four hits in his last 10 games entering Monday and had seen his average dip to .288. Meanwhile, another Florida State League all-star continues to struggle as well. CF Chris Walker is hitless in his last 21 at-bats despite swiping two more bases to bring his season total to a league and organizational best 34.

Left-hander Yorkin Ferreras got the start and lasted less than five innings for the third straight outing. Ferreras (2-6, 6.41 ERA) allowed three runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings and has now surrendered 12 earned runs in his three outings in the Cubs' rotation for an 8.53 ERA since joining the team.

Peoria Notes

Peoria suffered its worst loss in franchise history this Fourth of July, a 21-2 pounding at the hands of Kane County. The Chiefs were out-hit 26-4, and RHP Grant Johnson suffered the worst start of his young professional career. Johnson (1-2, 5.25 ERA) allowed a season-high six runs on six hits in two innings. Six pitchers were used in the loss. On offense, the only bright spots were CF Sam Fuld and RF Ryan Harvey. Fuld singled to extend his hitting streak to 16 games while Harvey hit his 11th home run and 47th RBI to tie LF Luis Montanez for the team lead in both categories. Fuld is now batting .280 on the year with RBIs in back-to-back games for the first time since April 22-25. The Chiefs' second worst loss in franchise history was in 1997 in a 23-5 blowout at the hands of Quad Cities, notes Peoria busybody and team broadcaster Nathan Baliva.

Boise Hawks

Boise was held to three hits in a 6-0 loss to Everett. Starter Mitch Atkins (0-2, 5.14 ERA) allowed one run and four hits in five innings for the loss in his third start. 3B Brandon Taylor recorded two of the team's three hits. All four of Taylor's multi-hit games this season have come in the past week, and the 17th round draft pick from BYU in this year's draft is hitting .325 (13-for-40) in his first 11 games. Jonathan Douillard got his third start behind the plate and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Douillard, 1-for-8 in four games this season, gave Mark Reed the night off after a recent 1-for-18 skid by the Cubs' third round pick in 2004.

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