The Sounds (32-30) built an early 4-0 lead behind another strong start by Chris Smith only to see it erased when the bullpen faltered.
Renato Nuñez provided some early fireworks when he launched his Pacific Coast League-leading 18th home run of the season in the bottom of the second inning.
A run-scoring double by Joey Wendle and bases loaded walk issued to Matt Chapman extended Nashville’s lead to 3-0 in the third. Ryan LaMarre pitched in a sacrifice fly in the fourth to make it a 4-0 game.
Smith was dialed in early as he cruised through the first four innings. The reigning PCL Pitcher of the Week ran his scoreless inning streak to 16 2/3 before it came to a halt with two down in the fifth. Elliot Soto doubled and Jacob Hannemann singled to put the Cubs’ first run on the board.
Smith recorded two quick outs in the sixth before Iowa catcher Victor Caratini launched a solo homer in the sixth to trim the deficit to 4-2. The right-hander was in line for the win after allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Right-hander Tyler Sturdevant relieved Smith in the sixth and got out of the inning, but found trouble in the seventh. All five batters he faced in the frame reached safely. Iowa’s Chesny Young made it a 4-3 game with a run-scoring base hit, and Mark Zagunis cleared the bases with a triple to put the Cubs ahead for good at 6-4.
Felix Doubront relieved Sturdevant and struck out a pair, but also issued four walks to allow the Cubs to extend their lead to 8-4. The Sounds issued a season-high eight walks in the loss.
Nashville’s offense went quiet the rest of the way against Iowa’s bullpen. The lone bright spot was Matt Chapman’s single in the eighth to extend his career-best hitting streak to 11 games.
David Berg picked up the win for Iowa and Sturdevant was tagged with the loss for Nashville.
Game two of the four-game series is set for Wednesday night at First Tennessee Park. Right-hander Corey Walter (1-1, 3.38) starts for Nashville against right-hander Seth Frankoff (1-2, 2.77) for Iowa. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.