Norfolk's late rally fell just short as the Tides dropped an 8-7 decision to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in front of 8,285 fans at Harbor Park Friday night.
The Tides trailed 8-2 entering the eighth inning, but mounted a furious rally against IronPigs reliever Joe Savery. Brandon Wood opened the inning with a double, and a Russ Canzler single put runners on the corners with nobody out. Danny Valencia followed with a long sacrifice fly to pull the Tides within 8-3, and Travis Ishikawa singled before L.J. Hoes worked a walk to load the bases. Buck Britton then drilled a 3-0 pitch into the right field party deck for a grand slam, bringing Norfolk within 8-7 and chasing Savery from the contest.
Lehigh Valley reliever Mike Stutes replaced Savery and retired the final two batters of the eighth inning to end the threat, then worked a perfect ninth inning to earn his second save and end Norfolk's six-game winning streak.
With the defeat, Norfolk dropped to 11-1 this season in the final game of a series.
Steve Johnson (1-2) suffered his second loss of the season after laboring through 3.1 innings of work. In his first start since being optioned from Baltimore on May 12, Johnson allowed five runs - four earned - on four hits while issuing four walks, as he needed 85 pitches to register 10 outs. He departed with two runners on base and one out in the fourth, but Pete Orr followed by greeting Mike Belfiore with a three-run homer to right that extended Lehigh Valley's lead to 6-1.
Ethan Martin (4-2) earned the win after allowing two runs on eight hits in seven innings of work. Martin walked two and struck out six to help the IronPigs snap a four-game losing skid.
L.J. Hoes finished with two hits, two walks and three runs scored to help pace Norfolk's 12-hit attack, as the Tides reached double digits in hits for the seventh straight game.
The Tides begin a four-game, home-and-home series with the second place Durham Bulls Saturday, with first pitch from central North Carolina set for 7:05. Jake Arrieta (2-1, 2.75) is slated to take the mound for Norfolk against right-hander Alex Colome (2-5, 2.84).
Notes: Russ Canzler singled twice to extend his hitting streak to 12 games…Brandon Wood had two hits and his now hitting .345 in six games with the Tides…Adam Russell tossed 2.0 scoreless innings and has now worked 9.0 consecutive scoreless innings…Britton's grand slam was Norfolk's first of the 2013 season…Danny Valencia went 0-for-3 to snap his 11-game hitting streak.