PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Chop another digit off the Pawtucket Red Sox’ magic number for clinching a spot in next month’s Governors’ Cup playoffs.
Pawtucket’s 8-5 victory on Wednesday night over the Syracuse Chiefs reduced its magic number for the wild card to three. Toledo beat Norfolk, 8-5, otherwise the magic number would be two.
Moreover, since Rochester beat North Division leader Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7-2, the PawSox pulled within 1 ½ games of the Yankees for first place.
David Pauley (14-4) earned the win after an early flirtation with history.
Pauley retired the first 12 batters in a row (six on groundouts) and led 1-0 after four innings thanks to Jeff Corsaletti’s sacrifice fly.
Corsaletti’s sac fly came during an elongated fourth inning, and the time Pauley spent on the bench was reflected in his fifth-inning performance.
Syracuse scored two runs on three hits as the Chiefs grabbed a 2-1 lead. But Pawtucket hung a “crooked number” (5) on the board in the fifth for a 6-2 lead.
Sandy Madera’s RBI single tied it at 2-2 and Dusty Brown scored the tie-breaking run on a wild pitch by Chris George (0-1). Then, with two on and two outs, Corsaletti belted a three-run homer to right field and a 6-2 lead.
The homer was his second key one since being recalled from Portland on July 17.
He hit a two-out, walk-off homer in the ninth on August 1 as Pawtucket rallied for an 8-7 win over Rochester.
Pauley cruised through the sixth but, again, appeared to suffer from spending too much time on the bench when Pawtucket scored twice in the bottom of the frame (one run scored on Dusty Brown’s single and another when, with the bases loaded, Keith Ginter was hit by a pitch).
Syracuse tagged Pauley for two runs on three hits in the seventh before manager Ron Johnson removed him in favor of Kyle Snyder.
Snyder, who’s been bothered by a recurring groin injury since mid-May, struck out the last two Chiefs in the seventh and blanked Syracuse in the eighth. But he seemingly ran out of gas in the ninth when asked to pitch a third inning and gave up two hits plus a walk to load the bases.
Curtis Thigpen’s sacrifice fly made it 8-4. But when Pedro Lopez lined a rocket at shortstop Josh Wilson, Johnson called on his closer, Hunter Jones.
Jones caught Wayne Lydon looking at a third strike for his seventh save of the season.
EXTRA BASES: Bartolo Colon makes another rehab start tonight for Pawtucket against Syracuse … Colon pitched a scoreless inning in his last rehab start before leaving the game supposedly because of a stomach ailment … In three starts on his current rehab assignment, Colon is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA … He’s scheduled to throw 65 pitches against the Chiefs … Joe Thurston was 2-for-3 with two walks … He’s hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games at a .391 clip (18-46) … Jonathan Van Every, who returned to the line up on Tuesday after missing 11 games with a strained oblique muscle, was on the bench again - this time with a stiff neck … Van Every has just one hit in his last 20 at-bats … Brown is shifting into high gear heading down the stretch … After going 3-for-4 against Syracuse, he’s hit safely in 20 of his last 23 games at a .325 pace (27-83), replete with five doubles, three home runs and 16 RBI.