Live in New Orleans: Mitre Masterful

METAIRIE, La. -- There was one word that seemed to come up quite often in the pressbox at Zephyrs Stadium when describing Sergio Mitre's performance on Friday night.

And it fit quite well.

"Un-be-lievable."

Mitre (5-5) threw a complete game, three-hit shutout as Iowa defeated New Orleans 7-1. The right-hander struck out four without walking a batter. He recorded 19 groundball outs and threw only 94 pitches.

At one point, the Cubs' starter had reportedly thrown 75 pitches while New Orleans pitchers had already combined to throw 130.

"I felt pretty good tonight," Mitre understated afterward. "I was able to get a lot of groundballs early on. I was really mixing in my sinker tonight. It was there when I needed it."

Geovany Soto started behind the plate, and he and Mitre were in a rhythm all throughout the evening.

"Everything's good when you have great command of almost every pitch," Soto said. "He had a great sinker that was working for him all night. His curveball looked very good tonight as well. When everything is clicking like that, you just ride it out."

Mitre carried a perfect game into the fifth inning before third baseman Rick Short, still in chase of the elusive .400 mark and drawing more and more media attention by the day, broke things up with a leadoff single to left field.

Short, a former Iowa Cub from 2001, eventually scored New Orleans' only run of the night later that inning. He was credited with being the first Zephyrs player to hit the ball out of the infield against Mitre.

"He was intent to pitch a good game," said Iowa pitching coach Rick Kranitz. "His last outing, he was on the verge of going to the big leagues, but he didn't pitch well. He's got that sinker going and is as tough as anybody. With all the groundballs he got, you're going to win anywhere when you do that."

"That sinker is something he really started coming along with last year," Kranitz added. "He really became comfortable with it this year and these are the things he is capable of doing. Now he just needs to go to the next level and prove he can do it there."

On offense, Soto was just a triple shy of the cycle as part of a 3-for-4, three-RBI night to lead the way for the Cubs. He launched his fourth home run of the season off New Orleans right-hander Kip Bouknight in the fifth.

The homer, a two-run shot, just cleared the wall in right field and splashed into the pool area at Zephyrs Stadium to pad Iowa's lead to 3-0 at the time.

"The home run, I was actually kind of [ticked] off earlier in the at-bat, because I missed a fastball right down the middle on the first pitch," Soto said. "I was just trying to stay the other way. I knew he wasn't going to come inside with a man on first, so I was aiming to hit the ball the other way. I caught it with the barrel and it just went out."

Second baseman Mike Fontenot led off the inning with a triple over the head of Kenny Kelly in center and later scored when Micah Hoffpauir's softly hit single to shallow center fell in to give the team its first run.

Former White Sox prospect Jon Rauch started, but lasted only two-thirds of an inning. He was on a 25-pitch limit entering the night. For his part, Bouknight (6-5) went 6.2 innings and threw over 100 pitches in relief en route to his first loss since joining New Orleans from Double-A Harrisburg.

Starting center fielder Calvin Murray led off the game with a single to right, but later left in the seventh after being hit in the head by a pitch from Bouknight.

"It's going to hurt, just as if you were to get hit with a pitch anywhere," Iowa hitting coach Pat Listach explained. "He said it hit him in the head and helmet, and that it caught more head than helmet unfortunately."

No additional information was immediately available on Murray's condition.

The Cubs and Zephyrs play a day-night doubleheader on Saturday with game one beginning at 12:05 p.m. CDT. They are scheduled to meet again Sunday, but those plans could change depending on the outcome of Hurricane Katrina.

OF David Kelton (hamstring) took batting practice before Friday's game and could be activated from the DL as early as Saturday.

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