By Jon Garrett
Killeen Daily Herald
ROUND ROCK Iowa Cubs skipper Mike Quade lost his cool, but his team did not, exploiting a less than stellar outing by Round Rock starter Chris Fussell (0-4) to hand the Express an 8-0 loss Friday.
Fussell, who started the season as a reliever and brought a 6.04 ERA into the game, gave up four runs (all earned) on nine hits in six innings of work, walking three and striking out two.
It was exactly the kind of self-destructive outing Round Rock was hoping to avoid after dropping their five previous games.
"NO one got hurt," responded Round Rock manager Jackie Moore with a wry smile after the game when asked for any positives his team took from the contest. "It gave us a chance to get our bullpen back in order."
The loss moved the Express to .500 (25-25) for the first time since April 27 and reduced the already tenuous lead third-place Round Rock has over last-place New Orleans in the Pacific Coast League's American Southern division.
It wasn't all wine-and-roses for the visiting club. Quade, a former first base coach for the Oakland Athletics in his first year as Cubs manager (this is his third year with the organization), got into a shouting match with home plate umpire Kevin Kelley in the top of the fourth inning following what he perceived to be a blown call after Iowa short stop Ronny Cedeno was called out on strikes.
After dusting the plate a few times with his feet and making his feelings known, Quade finally ended the three-minute confrontation shortly after first base umpire Ramon Armendariz came to the aid of Kelley by going into the visitor's dugout and returning with what appeared to be a stopwatch that he threw at the feet of the umpires before making the long walk down the left field line back to the lockeroom.
The Cubs, who took the lead in the second when center fielder Trenidad Hubbard singled on a line drive to left to score Micah Hoffpauir, who singled to get on, and Geovany Soto, who reached base earlier on a walk, soldiered on in the absence of their leader.
Mike Fontenot upped their lead with a solo home run to left in the fifth, his third of the season, and Raul Valdez brought in Hoffpauir, who reached based on a single to center, on a line drive to right in the sixth to double the deficit.
And in the eighth inning the home team simply fell apart.
Hubbard, who was cut by Round Rock April 27, singled on a line drive to center to bring Hoffpauir and Soto in after Hoffpauir was walked and Soto grounded into a force out. Fontenot followed that up with a sacrifice fly to score Will Cunnane, who reached first on a fielding error by Round Rock reliever Travis Driskill that allowed Cedeno to score after he singled to get on earlier in the frame.
Raul Valdez (3-1) got the win for the Cubs, striking out seven and allowing no runs on six hits in six innings of work.
Valdez a Cuban defector who was jailed five times for failed attempts to leave his country was a difference maker in the game according to Moore.
"He pitched well and kept us off balance," he said.
The teams will meet again today in the third game of their four game series at 2:05 p.m. at the Dell Diamond.
Contact Jon Garrett at email@example.com