The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, lost the final game of a four-game set in a 5-3 loss to the Charlotte Knights on Thursday night. Shortstop Zach Walters hit his team-best 16th home run, but the Knights broke a 3-3 tie with a pair of sixth-inning runs and hung on late for the victory.
Charlotte (32-42) scored a first-inning run without the benefit of a hit against Chiefs starter Jeff Mandel. Leadoff hitter Jim Gallagher walked and stole second base for advancing on a Steve Tolleson sacrifice bunt. Third baseman Brent Morel then drove in Gallagher with a groundout to shortstop for the game's first run.
Walters made sure the lead wouldn't last long. With two outs and the bases clear in the top of the second inning, Syracuse's shortstop blasted a solo home run to center field off of Knights right-hander Zach Stewart. The home run - Walters' career-high 16th - tied the score at one.
Charlotte took the lead back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Brandon Short and Gallagher started the inning with walks before Tolleson sacrificed the runners over. Morel then grounded in his second run of the day, giving Charlotte a 2-1 lead. First baseman Mike McDade followed with a run-scoring double sliced down the left-field line to put the Knights ahead by two.
Syracuse (28-43) evened the score in the fifth inning with three straight hits. After a leadoff single by Walters, right fielder Chris Rahl tripled to straightaway center field, cutting the Knights' lead to 3-2. First baseman Carlos Rivero followed with a ground-ball single to center to plate Rahl.
The Knights put another two-run inning on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Josh Phegley singled, Lars Anderson walked and Tyler Greene reached on an infield single to load the bases. Right-hander Mike Broadway replaced Mandel to face second baseman Angel Sanchez, who drove home a run on a fielder's choice to second base. A Broadway wild pitch then scored Anderson to give Charlotte a 5-3 lead.
Syracuse next hits the road to take on the Gwinnett Braves on Friday night at 7:05. Chiefs right-hander Yunesky Maya is slated to start.