EL PASO, Texas — Mark Canha doubled and scored his third run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Jensen in the eighth inning Wednesday to lift the New Orleans Zephyrs to a 6-5 victory over the El Paso Chihuahuas at Southwest University Park.
The Zephyrs pushed their winning streak to five games and have won 16 of 20 for the first time in team history but remain a half-game out of the American South Division lead with a 36-30 record, as first-place Nashville beat Reno 3-2 for its third straight win.
With wins in the first three games of their four-game set against El Paso, the Z’s also clinched their fifth consecutive series win to match the longest such streak in franchise history and one a Zephyrs team had not accomplsihed since 1994.
Canha led off the eighth inning with a double against El Paso reliever Hector Ambriz (2-1) and moved to third base on a fly out by Derek Dietrich, who went 2-for-4 on the night with three runs batted in, before Jensen drove home Canha for the second time in the game.
The Z’s left fielder finished 2-for-3 and scored his first run of the night when Jensen drove him in with a single in the fourth inning that gave the Zephyrs a 2-1 lead after Zack Cox had picked up a one-out base hit and scored on a single by Dietrich.
El Paso took a 1-0 lead when Jeff Francoeur took Z’s starter Brian Flynn deep to lead off the second inning, but Jake Marisnick put New Orleans up 3-1 in the fifth when he doubled and scored on a wild pitch by Chihuahuas starter Billy Buckner.
The Chihuahuas came back with two runs in the bottomm half of the frame, however, as Flynn gave up a walk and two singles, although Jake Lemmerman scored the first run on a passed ball by catcher Rob Brantly.
Dietrich gave the Z’s a 5-3 lead in the sixth inning with a two-run single against Buckner after he allowed a lead-off single to Cox, walked Canha and threw a wild pitch to let them reach second and third.
But the Chihuahuas came back with two runs of their own in the sixth inning that was aided by a Dietrich error that allowed Francoeur to reach first base to begin the inning.
Adam Moore scored Francoeur with a double, and Moore later scored on a sacrifice fly by Cody Decker. Flynn got Lemmerman to ground out to end the inning and finish a 6.0-inning performance with five runs allowed, although three were unearned, on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
Kevin Gregg (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh inning, and the Z’s eighth-inning run put him in line for a win that Chaz Roe preserved with two scoreless innings in which he recorded each of his six outs via strikeout while walking one for his team-leading seventh save of the season.
WHAT: Zephyrs at Chihuahuas
WHEN: 7:35 p.m.
WHERE: Southwest University Park, El Paso, Texas
RADIO: WMTI-FM, 106.1