The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, lost 5-2 in the first game of their four-game series at the Columbus Clippers on Thursday night. Roger Bernadina's two-run double put the Chiefs ahead in the fifth inning, but Columbus blasted three home runs to account for all of its five runs in the game.
Syracuse (49-61) and Columbus (70-42) traded scoreless half innings until the bottom of the fourth. Leading off the inning, Luis Valbuena lined a 1-0 pitch from Yunesky Maya over the left field for a solo home run. Valbuena, a left-hander, hit the only opposite-field home run of the game for the Clippers.
The Chiefs answered right away with two runs in the fifth against Clippers starter Joe Martinez. With two outs, Corey Brown and Steve Lombardozzi singled to put a pair of runners on for Bernadina. Syracuse's left fielder hit a Martinez pitch into left-center field to give the Chiefs a 2-1 lead.
But Columbus would answer immediately. Paul Phillips singled on an 0-2 pitch with one out, and after a Tim Fedroff fly out, second baseman Cord Phelps homered to right field on a 1-2 count. That put the Clippers ahead by a run and on top for good.
Beau Mills helped Columbus add another two runs in the seventh. Jared Goedert led off with a single to right field before Mills' second Triple-A home run was launched down the right field line. Clippers pitching held the Chiefs to just one hit and no runs over the final four innings to secure the victory.
The Chiefs and Clippers resume their series Friday night at 7:05. Syracuse starter Craig Stammen is scheduled to deal against Columbus righty Corey Kluber.