DES MOINES — It’s down to one.
Omaha’s lead in the PCL’s American Conference North, which was at five games on Aug. 18, is down to one game after a 7-6 loss Tuesday night at Iowa. Memphis beat New Orleans and league ERA leader Brian Flynn 8-2.
With six games left in the regular season, Omaha’s magic number — Storm Chasers wins plus Memphis losses needed to clinch the title — remains at six. Iowa’s second straight win to open the four-game series allowed the third-place Cubs to close within four games.
Since opening up the five-game lead, Omaha has gone 2-7.
Omaha All-Star Chris Dwyer struggled from the outset, allowing two runs in the first inning, one in the second and one in the third. The left-hander was charged with two more runs in the sixth inning.
Dwyer (9-11) gave up seven hits while walking a season-high six and striking out three in 5 2⁄3 innings. He allowed six earned runs, matching his season high. Dwyer entered the night fourth in the league in ERA (3.41) and third with an opponent’s batting average of .233.
Omaha took advantage of one of Iowa’s five errors to close within 3-1 in the third inning, and added another run on a Brett Hayes sacrifice fly to make it 3-2.
But a Luis Flores homer gave Iowa a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third.
Iowa extended its lead to 7-2 with a three-run sixth.
But Omaha scored a run on another Iowa error to get within 7-3 in the eighth. With the bases loaded, Johnny Giavotella came to the plate representing the tying run and delivered a two-run single, and Ben Broussard followed with a single to make it 7-6.
But Anthony Seratelli struck out to end the threat.
Iowa starter Justin Grimm (3-3) got the win after allowing two runs — one earned — on six hits in five innings.
Five of Omaha’s six runs were unearned.
Two starting outfielders — Brian Fletcher and Gorkys Hernandez — remain out with injuries.
Meanwhile, Kansas City made several moves that will affect Omaha.
The Royals traded Omaha outfielder Quintin Berry to the Boston organization in exchange for right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen, signed veteran first baseman Carlos Pena and assigned him to Omaha, and announced its intention to promote pitcher Danny Duffy and have him start Wednesday in Minnesota.
Pena, 35, was released by the Astros after hitting .209 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 85 games. He hit 174 homers for Tampa Bay and the Chicago Cubs in a five-year stretch from 2007 through 2011, finishing ninth in MVP voting in 2007 and 2008 and earning All-Star recognition in 2009. He has 285 big-league homers and a career batting average of .233. He hasn’t played since July 20.
Duffy is 3-0 with a 4.08 ERA in 12 games, 10 of them starts, for Omaha and 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in two starts for the Royals. He pitched six shutout innings to beat Detroit on Aug. 16 and is moving into the rotation spot that will be vacated by disappointing veteran Wade Davis.
Mortensen, 28, who was 3-0 with a 2.47 ERA in 43 2⁄3 innings for Class AAA Pawtucket, will report to Omaha. The former first-round pick of St. Louis (2007), also was 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA for Boston this season. In 167 1⁄3 innings during parts of five seasons with four teams at the big-league level, he’s 6-11 with a 4.68 ERA.
Berry, whose father and grandmother live in Omaha, was hitting .222 with Omaha and .193 including 50 games with Class AAA Toledo. Berry had been playing fairly regularly for the Chasers, but his playing time had gone down since Fletcher was promoted from Class AA in late July.