It was all Isotopes early in the game as Albuquerque built a 9-1 lead through four innings against Cubs' starter Jay Jackson. Rafael Furcal, playing on Major League rehab, led off the bottom of the first with a triple down the left field line and scored on a groundout to start the scoring. Furcal also had a two-run double as part of a four-run second. In the top of the third inning, the Isotopes had a run in and the bases loaded with no outs when Jackson struck out A.J. Ellis and pitcher Tim Corcoran to give himself a chance to get out of the inning. Furcal followed with a broken bat line drive to center that went off the glove of Sam Fuld for an error that allowed two more runs to score. It was Fuld's first error of the season after 263 chances without an error to start the year.
Corcoran was tough on the mound. He allowed a run in the second on a two-out RBI single by Jonathan Mota and two in the fifth on two-out RBI by Marquez Smith and Brad Snyder that made the score 9-3.
Jake Muyco took over on the mound for Jackson in the bottom of the fifth inning. After a perfect fifth, Muyco gave up a three-run homer to John Lindsey in the bottom of the sixth inning that extended the Isotopes' lead to 12-3.
In the top of the seventh, the Cubs had two on and one out for Snyder, so the Isotopes brought in left-hander Brent Leach for Corcoran. Leach got Snyder to line out to first, but gave up a three-run homer to Jason Dubois that cut the 'Topes lead to 12-6.
Muyco had another perfect inning in the seventh, but walked Chin-Lung Hu to start the eighth. Hu scored on a double by Ivan DeJesus, Jr. for the 'Topes 13th run. After a flyout, Justin Berg came in and got the final two outs to end the inning.
Jesus Rodriguez finished the top of the eighth inning for Leach and came back out to start the top of the ninth. Smith drew a leadoff walk and went to third on a double by Snyder. Dubois followed with his second three-run homer of the game that went over the bullpen, the picnic area, and the perimeter fence to completely leave Isotopes' Park. Dubois has four home runs and 13 RBI in this series. The Cubs were within four at 13-9.
Bryan LaHair started the rally over with a base hit and the Isotopes brought in Jon Link to replace Rodriguez. Bobby Scales greeted Link with a chopper to the right of Lindsey at first base. Lindsey fielded the ball and threw to force out LaHair at second, but the throw hit LaHair in the arm and rolled away for an error leaving two men on base. Chris Robinson followed with a double over the head of Trent Oeltjen in right field to drive in LaHair and move Scales to third. The Cubs were within three and had the potential tying run to the plate.
Link struck out Mota for the first out of the inning, but pinch-hitter Jim Adduci hit a line drive to third that literally went through the glove of Russ Mitchell at third base. Scales scored and Robinson scampered to third as the ball rolled away. After the play, Mitchell got a new glove from the Isotopes' dugout as the webbing was ripped away from the thumb of his old glove. It was 13-11 and the Cubs had the tying runs on base.
Sam Fuld was next and hit a two-strike pitch for a single to center that brought in Robinson to get the Cubs to within one at 13-12. With Smith back at the plate, Adduci and Fuld pulled off a double steal to get to second and third. It turns out they were already in scoring position though as Smith hit a line drive to left that landed in the Isotopes' bullpen for the Cubs' second three-run homer of the inning. Nine runs had scored and the Cubs had taken a 15-13 lead. Link gave up one more single to Dubois before getting out of the inning.
Jeff Stevens came in to pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning. He caught Jamie Hoffmann looking at strike three and got Michael Restovich to ground out to shortstop to start the inning. After a single by Ellis, Stevens got pinch-hitter J.D. Closser to pop out on the infield to Mota at shortstop to end the game.
Berg (4-1) would get credit with the win while Link (3-2) suffered the loss. Stevens earned his ninth save. He has converted nine straight save opportunities after starting the year 0-for-2.
With tonight's win, the Cubs improve to 43-28 on the road this season and have tied the franchise record for the most road wins in a season set in 1993.
The Memphis Redbirds also won tonight, so the Cubs continue to hold a one-game lead in the Pacific Coast League's American Northern Division with five games to play. The Cubs and Redbirds will finish the regular season with a four-game series at Principal Park starting on Friday.
The Cubs and Isotopes wrap up this series tomorrow night at 7:35 p.m. Central Time at Isotopes Park. RH Austin Bibens-Dirkx (5-3, 4.14) will start for the Cubs against RH Francisco Felix (1-0, 4.50) for the 'Topes. The game will be broadcast live on AM 940 with the Safeco On-Deck Circle Pre-Game Show starting at 7:10.