Norfolk used a five-run first inning and a strong outing from Jair Jurrjens to cruise past the Syracuse Chiefs 8-2 Friday night at Harbor Park.
The Tides batted around in the first against Syracuse starter Danny Rosenbaum (2-1), who entered the contest ranked second in the IL with a 1.14 ERA. Danny Valencia opened the scoring with a three-run homer to right, and Travis Ishikawa later added a two-run single in the frame to give the Tides an early 5-0 cushion.
Lew Ford added to Norfolk's offensive outburst with two solo home runs, the second straight night in which a Tides batter has belted multiple homers. Ford led off the third and seventh frames with opposite field blasts, his first two homers with the Tides this season.
The early run support was more than enough for Jurrjens (3-1), who retired each of the first 13 batters he faced en route to picking up his third consecutive victory. The 27-year-old right-hander surrendered two runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out six, and he needed just 92 pitches to navigate his eight innings of work.
Jurrjens carried a shutout into the eighth inning before the Chiefs plated two runs on four hits.
The win was Norfolk's eighth straight and 10th straight at home, breaking the franchise record for consecutive home wins at Harbor Park, previously set during the park's inaugural season in 1993. After starting the season 0-3 at home, Norfolk has gone 11-1 over its last 12 contests at Harbor Park.
The win also moved Norfolk into sole possession of first place in the IL South division, as Durham dropped a 4-1 decision at Pawtucket. The Tides are alone in first place for the first time since being 54-43 on July 23, 2009.
The two clubs will continue their four-game series Saturday night at Harbor Park, with first pitch set for 7:05. Zach Britton (1-0, 1.98) will take the mound against Syracuse right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (2-3, 5.46).
Saturday is "May the 4th Be With You" Star Wars night, presented by Your Local Ford Dealer. Star Wars costumed characters will be on hand throughout the night and the first 500 kids 14 & under will receive a light sword. There will also be a postgame fireworks extravaganza.
Notes: Norfolk's eight-game winning streak is two games shy of matching the franchise record of 10 straight wins set during the 1969 season, the Tides' first at the Triple-A level…Norfolk's five first inning runs were the most runs scored in an inning by the Tides this season…After reaching base safely three times, Yamaico Navarro has now reached in 17 consecutive games…Jonathan Schoop matched a season-high with three hits and has now hit safely in 13 of his last 14 contests…Norfolk has hit 11 home runs over the first six games of the current homestand.