GARY | Craig Maddox hit his first home run of the year off of the first pitch he saw from Sioux Falls relief pitcher Kyle Kingsley.
He watched the pitcher warm up and when the RailCats catcher saw a cutter in Kingsley's repertoire, he almost knew what was coming.
His homer that hit the seats just over the right-field wall at U.S. Steel Yard sparked a seven-run seventh inning that extended the RailCats' season-long winning streak to seven games.
Maddox tied Sunday's 7-1 win over Sioux Falls with the leadoff home run in the seventh before the rest of his team batted around in the inning.
"You can't discount the impact that a home run has on a club," RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. "Especially a club like ours, that doesn't hit a lot of them."
The RailCats entered the game with an American Association low of five homers this season.
Canaries' righty John Brebbia, making his third start of the season, was pulled with a 1-0 lead after the sixth inning, having struck out six RailCats and allowed five hits.
The Canaries then used three different pitchers through the last two innings. Kingsley took the loss, giving up five runs without recording an out in the seventh.
RailCats pinch hitter Jeremy Hamilton, coming in for Derek Smith in the No. 9 hole, hit a bases-clearing double to right-center that gave his team the lead.
The win Sunday was the second straight series that the RailCats swept, having beaten Sioux City in four straight games June 2-5. The Explorers visit U.S. Steel Yard for three games beginning Monday night.
"We're playing some pretty good baseball," Maddox said. "The starting pitchers are just putting us into position to win every night. It's a different guy every night answering the call, and that's our goal, just that the next guy steps up and if a guy is having a bad day, pick him up. That's the RailCat way. We've been finding a way to win, and luckily we've been scoring seven, eight runs, too."
The RailCats have seen stellar starting pitching performances through the streak, including Sunday's win by Dustin Crenshaw. The righty was limited on his pitch count, Tagert said, but struck out four in seven innings, allowing a second-inning run and dropping his season ERA from 1.80 to 1.70.
"(Dustin's) got five pitches that he can throw at any time," Maddox said. "He's the only guy that we had to make up another sign because he's got five pitches."
Maddox said Crenshaw throws a fastball, curveball, slider, changeup and splitter.
"My eyes are telling me that Dustin does a pretty good job of keeping us in a game, then you look at his numbers and well, he has been pretty darn good," Tagert said.