DES MOINES — The first four Iowa hitters combined for three hits and two runs.
And Omaha never fully recovered.
Omaha starter Yordano Ventura, who also gave up hits to the game’s fifth and sixth batters but left the bases loaded in the first inning, settled in well enough, but his teammates couldn’t muster enough offensive support.
Iowa’s 4-2 victory Thursday night at Principal Park completed the Cubs’ sweep of the four-game series and sent the Storm Chasers to their ninth loss in 11 games. Omaha was swept in a four-game series for the first time all season.
Omaha’s lead in the PCL’s American Conference North, which stood at a season-best five games before its recent tailspin, is gone. Memphis won Thursday night to move into a tie — the Redbirds also hold the tiebreaker advantage over Omaha after winning the season series.
Iowa isn’t finished either. The third-place Cubs are now two games out with four to play. Memphis travels to Oklahoma City to finish the season, while Iowa is at Nashville.
Iowa’s Julio Borbon led off the bottom of the first with a single and scored on a Dave Sappelt double. After a groundout, Edgar Gonzalez singled over a drawn-in infield to make it 2-0.
After his shaky start, Ventura didn’t allow another hit until the sixth, when the first three hitters led off with singles to load the bases. Edwin Maysonet then capped a 12-pitch at-bat with a sacrifice fly that made it 3-0 and ended Ventura’s 98-pitch outing.
Mike Olt greeted reliever Maikel Cleto with another sacrifice fly that made it 4-0.
Ventura (5-4) walked one and struck out five in his 5 1/3 innings.
Veteran Carlos Pena homered in his third Omaha plate appearance, a two-run, opposite-field shot to left-center in the seventh inning to bring the Chasers within 4-2.
That was the end of the night for Iowa starter Casey Coleman (5-3), who allowed five hits while walking three and striking out three.
Three Cubs relievers finished up, with Eduardo Sanchez pitching the ninth for his third save.
STORM TRACKING: Omaha’s loss ensured that the winner of the division will take a losing record into the playoffs, the first time that has happened since the PCL’s current format started in 1998. ... Omaha is 5-7 against Round Rock this season. ... Omaha pitchers struck out nine to extend their franchise-record total to 1,151 for the season. ... Pena flew out to the warning track in straightaway center field in his first Omaha at-bat and drew a four-pitch walk his second time up. He popped up for the game’s final out. ... Friday is “Pink Out the Park” Night to support breast cancer awareness.