EL PASO, Tex. - The Memphis Redbirds won their eighth consecutive game and moved into first place with a 7-5 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas on Sunday evening at Southwest University Park.
The Redbirds moved into sole possession of first place in the PCL American Southern Division for the first time since April 11 and grabbed a one-game lead over cross-state rival Nashville, which lost earlier on Sunday afternoon in Albuquerque.
Memphis' eight straight wins marks the second-longest winning streak in franchise history, only behind a nine-game winning stretch established by the Redbirds' 2000 PCL Championship squad from April 9 (Game 2) to April 17, 2000.
On July 2, the Redbirds were suffering a season-worst seven-game losing streak, sporting a 38-46 record while sitting 6.5 games out of first. Since then, Memphis has gone a league-best 32-12 (.727) to move into sole possession of first place.
First baseman Xavier Scruggs (3-for-4) finished a homer away from the cycle, singling, double, and tripling in his first three at-bats to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games. Scruggs was issued a four pitch walk in his fourth at-bat and struck out in his final plate appearance of the evening.
Outfielder Randal Grichuk (2-for-5) hit his 23rd homer of the season and drove in three runs. Second baseman Greg Garcia went hitless to end his 10-game hitting streak.
Memphis starter Tim Cooney picked up his league-leading 12th win, yielding two runs on eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings. Cooney's 12 wins tie Sean Lowe (1998) for third place on the Redbirds' single-season win rankings, which are one fewer than Larry Luebbers' (1999) and Lance Lynn's (2010) 13.
El Paso's Jonathan Galvez gave the Chihuahuas a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a two-out solo homer to left, his 10th of the season.
Donn Roach was blanking Memphis through four innings before the Redbirds offense batted around and erupted for six runs in the fifth for a 6-1 lead. Three runs came from Grichuk's three-run blast down the right field line. Three batters later after a Scott Moore walk and Stephen Piscotty single, Scruggs banged a two-run triple to right. A throwing error during the next at-bat brought home Scruggs and chased Roach from the game.
The Chihuahuas scored runs in back-to-back innings to cut the lead in half at 6-3 in the sixth inning, highlighted by an RBI single by former Redbirds infielder Tyler Greene. Back-to-back two-out RBI hits by Taylor Lindsey and Alex Castellanos trimmed the Memphis lead to 6-5 in the seventh.
Memphis scored an insurance run in the eighth as Pete Kozma worked a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice, and came around to score from second on a wild pitch.
Memphis and El Paso continue its series at 8:00 pm CT on Monday night from Southwest University Park. The Redbirds will send right-hander left-hander Marco Gonzales (2-1, 4.01) to the mound against Chihuahuas left-hander Juan Oramas (6-6, 5.42).