El Paso wins key game, to play Padres next March

Low Class A Fort Wayne score record 16th straight win at home

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Wednesday was a big day for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas.

Hours after announcing that El Paso will host an exhibition game next March 31 at Southwest University Park between the Major League Padres and the Chihuahuas, El Paso took the field and defeated Colorado Springs 2-1 to end a three-game losing streak and remain in in the race for the Pacific Coast League's Pacific Southern Division title.

Elsewhere, low Single-A Fort Wayne scored a 3-2 win over Lansing for the TinCaps' franchise-record 16th straight home win at Parkview Field. Fort Wayne is 23-4 over its last 27 games and has a magic number of four to clinch a Midwest League playoff berth. The 71-55 TinCaps maintained a four-game lead in the second-half, Eastern Division standings.

El Paso will be hosting a Major League team for the first time since 2003 when the Padres end their 2016 spring training schedule against the Chihuahuas.

"Southwest University Park is one of the best venues in Minor League Baseball," said Padres president Mike Dee while helping announce next March's exhibition. "We know the fans in El Paso create an unforgettable environment.

"The players and coaches who have played in El Paso in the past are looking forward to returning. And those who have not are looking forward to experiencing it first-hand as we make our first trip to El Paso."

Pat Murphy, who managed the Chihuahuas for 1 1/2 seasons before becoming the Padres manager in June, talked about the exhibition game before the Padres' 6-5 win Wednesday night in Washington.

"All baseball fans should go to El Paso and see what they have going on there," Murphy said. "The setting, the set-up, the stadium, the amenities, the amenities for the players, it is first class. It is a mini-Major League environment. The fans come out in droves. It's a great little town to hold an exhibition game."

"The Padres have been very supportive of everything we have done here in El Paso and we certainly appreciate all they've done," said MountainStar Sports president Alan Ledford. We look forward to welcoming the Padres to Southwest University Park and providing an opportunity for our incredible fans to experience the excitement of hosting a Major League team in El Paso."

A dozen Chihuahuas have made their Major League debuts with the Padres since El Paso became the Padres Triple-A affiliate in 2014.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Chihuahuas (70-61) remained 2 1/2 games behind Las Vegas in the division race.

Shortstop Hector Gomez accounted for both El Paso runs with a solo homer - his second of the season as well as his second in two games - and an eighth-inning, tie-breaking double.  Gomez (.328) was 2-for-4. Pinch-hitter Hunter Renfroe (.290) singled in the eighth and scored the winning run.

Second baseman Casey McElroy (.285) and center fielder Rymer Liriano (.280) were each 1-for-3 with a double.

Left-handed starter Robbie Erlin (6.04 earned run average) allowed one run on seven hits with a walk with three strikeouts in six innings.

Right-handed reliever Dale Thayer (1-0, 0.00 ERA) two hits and a walk with two strikeouts in two scoreless innings. Right-hander Jon Edwards, who was acquired from Texas recently for outfielder Will Venable, allowed a hit and a walk with a strikeout in a scoreless ninth to pick up his first save for El Paso and his 21st of the PCL season.

First baseman Trae Santos (.260) was 1-for-3 with his 13th home run. Designated hitter Ruddy Giron (.295) was 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. Second baseman Josh Van Meter (.246) was 1-for-4 with a run scored. Left fielder Edwin Moreno (.318) was 2-for-2 with a walk and a steal.

Starting right-hander Chris Huffman (9-6, 2.94 ERA) allowed a run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts in six innings.

Left-hander Taylor Cox (3.81) allowed two hits in a scoreless inning. Right-hander T.J. Weir (4.22) allowed a run on two hits with two strikeouts in an inning. Right-hander Colby Blueberg (0.82) struck out two in a perfect inning for his 20th save - the most by a Padres' minor league closer.   

AROUND THE FARM:

DOUBLE-A SAN ANTONIO (56-72): FRISCO 6, Missions 3 - LF Tyson Gillies (.259) hit his second homer, a solo shot, in two at-bats. SS Diego Goris (.265) was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. 1B Yeison Asencio (.305) was 2-for-4 with a double but committed two errors. Starting RHP Dennis O'Grady (3-5, 5.54 ERA) allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. LHP Brandon Alger (3.86) allowed a hit with a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings. RHP Genison Reyes (0.00) allowed two unearned runs on a hit and three walks with a strikeout in an inning.

HIGH SINGLE-A LAKE ELSINORE (47-82): STORM 5, Modesto 2 - LF Nick Schulz (.241) was 1-for-3 with his 11th homer, three RBIs and two runs scored. RF Nick Torres (.289) was 1-for-3 with a walk and a RBI. Starting LHP Brad Wieck (2-6, 5.21 ERA) allowed one run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. LHP Kyle Bartsch (4.11) allowed a run on two hits with a strikeout in two innings.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A TRI-CITY (34-32): HILLSBORO 3, Dust Devils 2 - Starting RHP Emmanuel Ramirez (3.86 ERA) allowed an unearned run on two hits and a walk with a strikeout over six innings. RHP Sam Holland (1.71) struck out one in two perfect innings. RHP Phil Maton (4-2, 1.52) allowed two runs on three hits in a third-of-an-inning to blow the save and suffer the loss. SS Peter Van Gansen (.271) had a triple in three at-bats with a third, a walk, a RBI and a run scored. DH Henry Charles (.193) was 2-for-2 with a double and a walk. 1B Ty France (.293) was 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly. OF Justin Pacchioli (.233) was 0-for-3 with a walk, a steal and a run scored.

ARIZONA ROOKIE PADRES (22-31): The Padres were off Wednesday.