The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, won their third straight game with a 5-3 victory over the Durham Bulls on Wednesday afternoon. Mike Costanzo drove in three runs and Danny Rosenbaum tossed seven strong innings in the win, putting the Chiefs just one win away from a sweep of the four-game series.
Syracuse (13-19) grabbed a pair of second-inning runs to start the scoring thanks to Costanzo. The third baseman stepped up to the plate two batters after a Micah Owings walk and with two outs in the inning. Costanzo then launched a 3-1 pitch from Durham starter Alex Colome over the top of the 32-foot high "Blue Monster" in left field, putting the Chiefs on top, 2-0. The long ball was Costanzo's fourth of the season.
The Chiefs added a run in the third inning thanks to the top of the lineup card. With one out, leadoff hitter Eury Perez bounced a ground ball back to Colome that the pitcher couldn't handle, with Perez reaching base on the error. After a Jeff Kobernus single advanced Perez to second base, second baseman Will Rhymes punched a single into right field. That plated Perez for a 3-0 Syracuse lead.
Durham (20-13) retaliated for two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning - despite never getting the ball out of the infield. After a leadoff walk to Vince Belnome, catcher Chris Gimenez laid down a bunt single to third base, putting runners on first and second. Shortstop Tim Beckham followed that with another bunt single to third, and Costanzo's throw to first base sailed away into foul territory for an error, scoring Belnome. Third baseman Cole Figueroa then reached on a run-scoring ground ball to shortstop that Zach Walters bobbled for an error, cutting the lead to 3-2. Walters, however, threw behind Beckham at third base and began a rundown that resulted in the shortstop's being tagged out at the plate. Rosenbaum would strike out the next two hitters to escape the frame.
The Chiefs put single runs up on the board in each of the following two innings. In the sixth, Walters doubled with two outs to chase Colome from the game. Left-hander Jeff Beliveau then entered to face Costanzo, who smashed a second-pitch double to deep center field, scoring Walters and putting the Chiefs up by a pair of runs.
Perez then added an insurance run in the seventh. The left fielder clubbed a first pitch from Believau just over the top of the towering left-field wall for a solo home run - Perez's first long ball since May 19, 2011 with Advanced-A Potomac.
The Bulls would launch a final rally in the eighth inning, loading the bases with nobody out on a pair of infield singles and a walk against left-hander J.C. Romero. First baseman Leslie Anderson then grounded out to first base to score a run and cut the Syracuse lead to 5-3. But the Chiefs' bullpen would respond. Right-hander Jeff Mandel entered to retire Shelley Duncan on a fly out, and left-hander Fernando Abad followed that by striking out Vince Belnome to strand a pair of Bulls runners.
Chiefs closer Erik Davis would shut the door for the second straight day despite some trouble. He surrendered singles to Gimenez and Figueroa, but retired Mike Fontenot on a fly out to left field to end the game.
Syracuse goes for a sweep on Thursday evening at 7:05. Chiefs right-hander Ross Ohlendorf is slated to start against Bulls right-hander J.D. Martin.