The Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team's magic number is down to four to clinch the wild-card playoff berth in the American Association after a 5-3 win over the Sioux City Explorers on Tuesday at Shaw Park.
A crowd of 7,012 saw the Goldeyes (54-40) score three runs in the third inning and hang on for the victory over the Explorers (41-53) and hold a three-game lead for the wild card.
The Goldeyes are on a four-game winning streak after winning three straight on the road in St. Paul over the Saints, the closest team on their heels for the wild card.
Goldeyes right-fielder Josh Mazzola had three hits including a home run and a double and two RBI. Relief pitcher Kaohi Downing recorded his first win since May 25 with Brian Beuning earning his sixth save.
The two teams meet again Wednesday at 7 p.m. for the second in the four-game set at Shaw Park. Lefty Zach Baldwin (2-2, 5.28) will get the start for Winnipeg while Sioux City is expected to start Colin Allen (0-5, 8.80)
Mazzola hit his 18th home run of the season with a solo shot over the left field wall to year to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Goldeyes scored three runs on four hits to take a 4-2 lead. Second baseman Jose Duran drew a lead-off walk, Price Kendall hit a single followed by a sacrifice bunt by Chris Roberson to advance the runners. Then Yurendell de Caster’s single scored Duran, a single by Barbaro Canizares scored Kendall and a double by Mazzola scored de Caster. Unfortunately for the Goldeyes, the inning ended with a double play when Luis Alen flew out and Canizares was put out at home plate.
The Explorers came back within one run trailing 4-3 in the top of the fifth inning with an RBI single by left-fielder Peter Barrows.
In the bottom of the fifth, Goldeyes catcher Luis Alen’s double scored Chris Roberson to restore his team’s two-run edge leading 5-3.
Diamond Dust: The last time the Goldeyes had a season with no games rained out was in 2001. This season the Winnipeg team also hasn’t played a doubleheader for the first time since 2005.