SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jake Cronenworth hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer and Mike Clevinger was brilliant for six innings as the San Diego Padres beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2 Saturday to reduce their magic number for clinching an NL wild card to one.
Juan Soto and Manny Machado also connected for the Padres, who can claim their first playoff spot in a full season since 2006 on Sunday when they send lefty Blake Snell to the mound for the series finale. They got some help when Miami beat Milwaukee 4-3. San Diego leads Philadelphia by two games for the second of three NL wild cards.
The Padres beat St. Louis in a first-round series after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before being swept in the Division Series by the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
With Clevinger (7-7) and Dylan Cease (14-8) locked in a duel after each allowed a home run in the first inning, the Padres knocked the Chicago right-hander out of the game before he could get an out in the sixth.
Machado hit a leadoff single and Cronenworth followed with a homer onto the whiskey deck atop the right field wall, his 17th, for a 3-1 lead. Cronenworth raised both arms in the air and yelled, “Let’s go!”
Cease walked Brandon Drury and Josh Bell and was pulled for Joe Kelly. Austin Nola singled to bring in Drury, and Bell was thrown out trying to take third.
Clevinger held the White Sox to one run and three hits while striking out three and walking none. After allowing Elvis Andrus’ leadoff homer, Clevinger retired 16 straight batters until giving up consecutive singles with one out in the sixth. He then retired the next two batters to finish his night.
Josh Hader pitched the ninth for his 35th save.
Cease gave up four runs and five hits, struck out five and walked four.
Andrus drove Clevinger’s second pitch to center field for his second career leadoff homer. It was his 15th homer this year. Andrus finished with three hits, including an RBI single in the eighth.
Soto tied it with a moonshot to center with one out in the bottom of the first, his 27th. Machado homered off the facade of the second deck in left off Jake Diekman with one out in the seventh, his 32nd.