THE Winnipeg Goldeyes' 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.
A crowd of 7,012 at Shaw Park saw the Goldeyes (54-40) score three runs in the third inning and hang on for the victory over the Explorers (41-53).
The Goldeyes now have a three-game lead over the St. Paul Saints for the wild card and are on a four-game winning streak after winning three straight on the road in St. Paul.
Goldeyes right-fielder Josh Mazzola had three hits against the Explorers, including a home run and a double and two RBI. Relief pitcher Kaohi Downing recorded his first win since May 25.
"It's not easy but we've got to find a way to keep pitching and defending the field the way we have this last week," said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney. "If we do, I'm sure this week should have the same result as last week. It's all pitching and defence and getting some timely hits. Get those bats swinging a little bit, we should be in good shape."
Sioux City took a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI double by first baseman Jorge Delgado. Winnipeg right-fielder Josh Mazzola hit his 18th home run of the season with a solo shot over the left-field wall to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second.
In the bottom of the third, 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 within one run 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 lead.
Forney said the team's walking wounded are slowly improving, including Kendall (leg) and Duran (hamstring). Roberson's left eye, hit last week by a foul off his own bat, is healing nicely.
The teams meet again tonight at 7 for the second game of a four-game set. Lefty Zach Baldwin (2-2, 5.28) gets the start for Winnipeg.
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