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51s continue to smoke PCL foes, win for 18th time in 20 games

After a tobacco awareness assembly the 51s hosted Wednesday morning for more than 6,000 local fifth graders before their “Smoker’s Strike Out School Day Game,” the team acted like hypocrites, staying smoking hot in a 5-1 win over Sacramento at Cashman Field.

Las Vegas, which leads Triple A with a 24-10 record, matched a franchise mark with its 10th straight home win and has won 18 of 20 games overall during a sizzling stretch that included a franchise-record 14-game winning streak.

“The guys expect to win every day they go out there,” 51s manager Wally Backman said.

Darin Gorski combined with three relievers on a five-hitter and Eric Campbell homered and had three hits for the second straight game.

“The best thing we saw today was Gorski really bounced back from a poor start he had the last time,” Backman said. “That was really big for him to be able to come back and pitch the way he did today.”

Rebounding from Friday’s start at El Paso in which he gave up seven runs in 1 1/3 innings as his road ERA soared to 9.98, Gorski (3-2) allowed a run on four hits in six innings in his longest outing of the season. He had five strikeouts and two walks and also doubled and scored in the fifth.

The left-hander has thrived at home this season, allowing only three earned runs in 16 2/3 innings (1.67 ERA) as he has transformed hitter-friendly Cashman Field into Gorski Park.

“All the fields in this (Pacific Coast) League play pretty similar. It just so happens in my home starts, I’ve been locked in and some of my road starts have gotten away from me,” said Gorski, 27. “I’m trying to find that same consistency at home and on the road.

“My last start, I just wasn’t attacking hitters enough. Today, I felt I could get ahead of guys and attack guys a little bit better.”

Campbell singled and scored in Las Vegas’ two-run second and added a solo shot in the sixth. The super utility man, who the New York Mets optioned to the 51s on May 6, has gone 6-for-8 with two homers in his last two games to raise his team-leading average to .457 (21-for-46).

“I feel better,” Campbell said. “I’ve felt good pretty much the whole year. I’m just trying to have consistent at-bats and keep the same approach in every at-bat.”

Campbell is one of seven 51s players who were promoted to the Mets this year after starting the season in Las Vegas. He and infielder Danny Muno — who had two hits and an RBI — are the only two who have been sent back to the 51s.

“We’ve lost some quality, key people but these guys have rallied and picked up the slack,” Backman said. “The nice thing is we’ve got 25 guys who can contribute to our success. We have great chemistry. People don’t realize it, but chemistry goes a long way.”

Kyle Johnson went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for Las Vegas and Zach Thornton, Scott Rice and John Church combined for three scoreless innings of relief.

“We’re playing good baseball,” Campbell said. “When our pitchers throw strikes, we’re playing good defense behind them and the last few years we’ve shown we’re always going to have good hitters here.

“If you have that combination here, you’re going to win a lot of games.”

■ NOTE — San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence sat out Wednesday’s game, but is expected to be back in Sacramento’s lineup for Thursday’s 7:05 p.m. game here as he continues his rehabilitation assignment for a fractured left forearm. Pence, batting .167 (2-for-12) in four games for the River Cats (17-17), hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 12-8 loss to the 51s.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.

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