Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde

Rich Hill struck out 14 in seven innings while allowing just two hits for Triple-A Iowa Tuesday night in the I-Cubs' 2-1 win at Nashville. He did not allow a run or walk.  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp

This after a major league stint that concluded with 15 walks, 23 hits and 20 runs allowed in 19 1/3 innings. In his six starts for the Triple-A team this year, Hill (2-1) has 54 strikeouts to eight walks and a 2.39 ERA.

Fellow Iowa southpaw Ryan O'Malley, scheduled to pitch Wednesday's game against Nashville (the sixth of eight straight against the Sounds) charted Hill's start and made the following observations.

"He had no three-ball counts," O'Malley said. "When he struggles, he struggles because he walks guys, but tonight he was getting ahead. I think he had seven strikeouts with his curveball alone. It was pretty unreal."

Hill's performance was his most dominant outing of the season and his curveball was a big reason why. He tied a career-high in strikeouts, which he matched three times last year at Iowa and Double-A West Tenn.

"We've seen stuff like this before from him," noted Iowa manager Mike Quade. "He didn't have his best stuff in his first game back with us against Sacramento (May 25), but he was much better tonight. His fastball location is good, not great. But he had his curveball tonight and when he's got that going, it's a heck of a pitch."

Hill recently added a slider to his repertoire, which Quade says he is still working to perfect.

"He's still a guy who's working to make quality pitches on a regular basis," Quade said. "Adding the slider and working on his changeup are important to him. It was exciting to watch him tonight and we just hope he continues to build on this start."

Quade wouldn't say whether he thought Hill's stint with the major league club could be contributed to being less aggressive with big league hitters as opposing to going right at them at Triple-A.

"I didn't get a chance to watch him up there, but I do know that you have to be more consistent and make a larger percentage of quality pitches to be successful up there," Quade said. "He's been fun to watch here. He dominated here last year and he dominated tonight. It's exciting, but there are still some rough edges that need to be worked out. It ain't easy."

Michael Wuertz threw two innings in relief to close things out. He allowed a run and two hits while striking out three of the seven batters he faced.

Ryan Theriot doubled twice and scored atop the lineup as Felix Pie had the night off, save for a late-inning substitution.

The Cubs improved to 23-27 with wins in four of their last five games. They currently sit in second place in the Pacific Coast League's American Northern Division, four games behind Nashville.


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