Jake Cronenworth hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the sixth Saturday night as the San Diego Padres reduced their magic number to one in the National League wild-card race with a 5-2 win over the visiting Chicago White Sox.
Juan Soto and Manny Machado also homered for the Padres, who can clinch their first, full-season playoff berth since 2006 on Sunday.
The Padres (87-71) are now two games ahead of Philadelphia (which split a doubleheader) in the race for the second NL wild-card berth with four games to play and three ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers, who lost to Miami.
San Diego starter Mike Clevinger outdueled White Sox Cy Young candidate Dylan Cease.
Clevinger (7-7) retired 16 straight after giving up a game-opening home run to Elvis Andrus. He allowed one run on three hits and no walks with three strikeouts in six innings to earn the win. Josh Hader picked up his 35th save of the season and sixth as a Padre.
Cease, who entered the game with a 2.06 ERA, gave up four runs on five hits, including the homers to Soto and Cronenworth, and four walks with five strikeouts in five-plus innings to take the loss.
The game started with off-setting, first-inning homers. Andrus hit the second, game-opening homer of his career on Clevinger’s second pitch. Soto tied the game with a one-out homer in the bottom half of the inning.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until the bottom of the sixth as Clevinger didn’t allow another baserunner until giving up two consecutive singles with one out in the sixth and Cease held the Padres to a pair of two-out singles over the next four innings.
But after Machado singled to lead off the sixth, Cronenworth hit his 17th homer of the season into the right field seats to make it 3-1. Cease then issued back-to-back walks to Brandon Drury and Josh Bell, leading to Cease’s departure. Joe Kelly struck out Ha-Seong Kim for the inning’s first out before giving up an RBI single to Austin Nola.
Machado extended the Padres’ lead to 5-1 with his 32nd homer in the seventh — a drive off Jake Diekman deep into the second deck in left-center. The White Sox got a second run in the top of the eighth on Andrus’ RBI single off Pierce Johnson.