Syracuse (48-56) got on the board first with some power from Mark Teahen. The first baseman clubbed a 1-0 pitch from right-hander Esmerling Vasquez down the right-field line and just inside the foul pole for a solo home run, his second long ball of the season. The homer was Teahen's first since an April 25 grand slam - also hit at Rochester.
Starting pitcher Zach Duke cruised early, retiring the first nine batters he faced, but he ran into trouble in the fourth inning. Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Chris Parmelee singled to begin the inning and put two runners on base. Danny Valencia then followed up with a single to center field, but Nishioka was gunned down at home plate by Brett Carroll for the first out in the inning - Carroll's league-leading 15th outfield assist. But Rochester (52-53) followed that with two more singles, with Wilkin Ramirez loading the bases and Evan Bigley driving in Parmelee to tie the score at one. A Clete Thomas fielder's choice ground ball scored Valencia for the inning's second run, and Ray Chang followed with a single to give the Red Wings a 3-1 lead. The damage appeared to be done when Rene Rivera hit a ground ball to third base, but the ball trickled off Carlos Rivero's glove for an error. Thomas crossed home for the fourth and final run of the frame.
The Chiefs then tried to piece together a comeback in the middle innings. In the fifth, Rivero singled to start the frame and Carroll doubled him to third base. Two batters later, Seth Bynum's sacrifice fly sliced the lead to 4-2. But Vasquez would recover after a walk to rehabbing major leaguer Jayson Werth, striking out Josh Johnson to end the inning.
In the sixth, Syracuse struck again. Nationals first baseman Chad Tracy - also with Syracuse on rehab - walked to start the inning, and a Jesus Valdez fielder's choice forced him out at second base. Teahen then singled to knock Vasquez out of the game, and Rivero greeted reliever Luis Perdomo with a first-pitch single to center field. That scored Valdez and cut Rochester's advantage to 4-3, but Perdomo retired Carroll on a pop-up and Koyie Hill on a groundout to end the frame.
But the Red Wings claimed a seventh-inning insurance run against Duke. With two outs, Nishioka and Parmelee again laced back-to-back singles to bring up Valencia. The third baseman drilled a double down the left-field line to score Nishioka, though Parmelee was cut down at the plate by a relay from left fielder Valdez and shortstop Johnson.
The Chiefs would rally again in the eighth inning against Perdomo, putting Valdez and Teahen on base with one out. But the right-hander induced a Rivero fielder's choice and Carroll pop out to end the frame, before he cut down the Chiefs despite a two-out walk in the ninth inning.
Syracuse and Rochester will play the third game of their set on Thursday morning at 11:05. Chiefs right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx is scheduled to tangle with Red Wings right-hander Eric Hurley.