(memphisredbirds.com)- The Memphis Redbirds handed the visiting Sacramento River Cats a 6-2 defeat in front of 11,030 fans and students in attendance of Education Day on Wednesday at AutoZone Park.
Memphis (18-13) has now won its last three in a row at home and five of its last six overall and to extend its first place lead to a full game over Omaha in the PCL American Northern Division.
In his second start since transitioning from the bullpen, Maikel Cleto (1-1) earned his first victory of the season after yielding only one hit over five scoreless innings - a game-opening, broken-bat single by Jemile Weeks. The 24-year-old also walked five and struck out six in 89 pitches (49 strikes).
Second baseman Kolten Wong doubled, scored two runs, and stole his 5th base of the season. Center fielder Oscar Taveras also doubled while driving in two runs. Third baseman Jermaine Curtis added two RBIs to extend his team-leading mark to 19 driven in.
The Redbirds jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning, sending eight batters to the dish for a 37-pitch frame by Sacramento starter Bruce Billings (2-2). Taveras doubled home Wong, followed by Greg Garcia working a based-loaded walk.
Memphis tacked on another run in the following frame for a 3-0 lead, as Adron Chambers hit a one-out double down the right field line, which was his fourth two-bagger in his last four games. Two batters later after a wild pitch from Billings, Taveras knocked a weak grounder just beyond the reach of the second baseman into center to score Chambers.
With runners on second and third in the bottom of the fifth, Curtis blooped a two-run single over the shortstop's head for a 5-0 advantage.
Sacramento's only runs of the game came via a Scott Moore two-run homer over the right field wall in the top of the eighth inning. The long ball was Moore's third of the season.
The Redbirds added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth with a Chambers sacrifice fly to score Garcia.
Barret Browning worked around three hits while fanning two for 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Eric Fornataro stranded two inherited runners, but gave up the two-run homer in 1 1/3 innings. Eduardo Sanchez finished the contest with a perfect inning.
Billings was charged for five runs on five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings.
The Redbirds and River Cats continue their series at 7:05 pm on Thursday night at AutoZone Park. PCL ERA leader John Gast (3-0, 0.26) toes the rubber for Memphis to face Sacramento lefty Justin Thomas (0-2, 6.00).