One big swing of the bat helped propel the Sioux Falls Pheasants past the first-place Winnipeg Goldeyes to a 9-4 victory Tuesday night in Sioux Falls.
Trevor Lawhorn's three-run homerun over the left field wall, his third of the year, broke a 2-2 in the fourth inning and gave the Pheasants the lead for good.
Riding a five-game winning streak, the Pheasants pulled to two games behind the Goldeyes for first place in the North Division.
Winnipeg struck for a run in the first inning on Jon Weber's RBI single, but they left the bases loaded.
Jonny Kaplan answered with a leadoff homerun to tie the score at 1-1. Kaplan returned to the lineup for the first time in more than a week due to injury. His fifth blast of the season was his second to leadoff a game. Jared Bolden connected for an RBI single two batters later for an early 2-1 Pheasant lead.
"That's a good team we're playing over there and a really solid pitcher," said Pheasants manager Steve Shirley of Goldeyes starter Chris Salamida. "We were able to get big hits early in the game against him and it was a big boost."
The Goldeyes loaded the bases in the fourth but managed to score only one run on Pheasants starter Alan DeRatt (2-1). He recovered with a double play that tied the game 2-2 and a groundout to end the frame.
De Ratt hurled 6 2/3 innings in the win, allowing four runs on eight hits. He also struck out two batters and walked one.
The Birds ran the lead to 6-2 in the fifth inning on Cristian Guerrero's sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Jared Bolden from third base. Guerrero finished the night 2-for-3 and brought home two runs. He leads the team with 29 RBI.
Dan Barbero's two-run homerun in the seventh inning pulled Winnipeg within two of the Birds, 6-4.
Sioux Falls answered with three runs in the bottom of the seventh on three hits. A throwing error allowed Bolden to score from second base, Guerrero brought in Nicolas with a triple and Mark Shorey hit an RBI single for the 9-4 victory.
Cesar Nicolas was one of four Pheasants hitters to have two-hit nights, extending a season-high hitting streak to 13 games.
The bullpen combination of Jack Van Leur, Dan Cooper and Cody Evans shut out the Goldeyes for the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing only three hits.
"I don't know if there are adjectives every night to go over how good of I job I feel they are doing every night," Shirley said of his relievers who have a combined 3.81 ERA.
Chris Salamida (1-2) took the loss for the Goldeyes. He threw 3 2/3 innings allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out two and walking one.