There was the possibility of champagne Sunday at Hadlock Field.
The Portland Sea Dogs settled for a win, and the anticipation of bubbly later this week.
Portland moved to the threshold of the Eastern League playoffs with a 7-1 victory over the Richmond Flying Squirrels Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field.
Michael Almanzar belted a three-run double to cap a five-run second inning. David Chester added a solo home run for the Sea Dogs (78-50).
Portland continues to lead the East Division, with a 1 1/2-game lead over Binghamton.
The top two teams in both East and West divisions reach the postseason, and Portland holds a 14-game lead over third-place New Britain (63-63), which also won Sunday.
The magic number for Portland to reach the playoffs is now one. Either one Portland win or one New Britain loss puts the Sea Dogs in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“We try not to pay too much attention to the standings, but we know if we keep winning, we’ll be in good position,” said Mike Augliera, Sunday’s winning pitcher. “Our job is to keep plugging away.”
Both Portland and New Britain are off Monday. The Sea Dogs begin a six-game road trip Tuesday in Harrisburg.
In the West Division, first-place Richmond (70-57) remained a half-game ahead of Akron (70-58).
On Sunday, Augliera (6-10) allowed one run on six hits in six innings.
While his record may not dazzle, Augliera is fourth in the Eastern League in innings pitched (140).
“He goes out there every fifth day and he gives us innings,” Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon said. “We don’t have to go to our bullpen as much when he’s out there. He’s been very reliable.
“When he’s good, he’s down in the zone, like he was today.”
Augliera was staked to a 5-0 lead in the second inning as the Sea Dogs took advantage of an poor outing from Kyle Crick (6-7), the San Francisco Giants top prospect, according to Baseball America.
After walking one batter in the first, Crick walked three more in the second, while also giving up two hits.
Almanzar greeted reliever Phil McCormick with a bases-clearing double to left for a 5-0 lead.
“The offense jumped out early, so I just tried to throw strikes and let the defense play behind me,” Augliera said.
Robby Scott (1.98 ERA) pitched two scoreless innings of relief and Aaron Kurcz (2.15) finished it off.
Portland was out-hit 8-6 but got the big blasts, including Chester’s fifth home run in his 51st game for the Sea Dogs.
Chester, a 33rd-round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2011, was part of Class A Salem’s championship run. He sees a similar pattern in Portland.
“A lot of the same guys,” said Chester, while his teammates celebrated their third straight win. “I think we’re getting hot at the right time. That’s all that matters at the end.”
After the road trip to Harrisburg and then New Hampshire, the Sea Dogs return to Hadlock Field next Monday for their final regular-season home stand from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1.
NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 7,368, the 12th sellout of the season … Sea Dogs catcher Mike Brenly threw out two runners trying to steal second base in the first inning … Sea Dogs ace Brian Johnson was initially scheduled to pitch Tuesday, but has been moved to next weekend to give him extra rest … Sea Dogs playoff tickets go on sale Monday.