The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, lost the first game of a four-game set at the Gwinnett Braves, 8-4, on Friday night. Gwinnett broke a 2-2 tie with a four-run fifth inning and held on from there on out for the series-opening victory.
Gwinnett (32-44) scored an unearned first-inning run against Chiefs starter Yunesky Maya. After a Jose Constanza single and Todd Cunningham fielder's choice, right fielder Joey Terdoslavich knocked a single into right field. Chris Rahl had trouble handling the ball on the play, and Cunningham scampered home from first base on the error for the game's first run.
The Braves added a third-inning run with a two-out rally. After a Terdoslavich double, first baseman Ernesto Mejia grounded a ball off of third baseman Will Rhymes' glove for a single into left field, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead.
Syracuse (28-44) followed that with runs in back-to-back innings to tie the score. In the fourth, Rahl cranked a first-pitch, one-out home run to center field off of former Chiefs right-hander Joe Bisenius. The long ball, Rahl's fifth homer of the year, sliced Gwinnett's lead to a run.
The Chiefs would match the score in the fifth inning. Brian Jeroloman singled to start the frame before Maya sacrificed him to second base. After a Rhymes walk and Danny Espinosa flyout, center fielder Corey Brown blasted a ground-rule double to right field, scoring Jeroloman to tie the game at two.
Mejia and the Braves would answer with another two-out rally. In the bottom of the frame, Terdoslavich singled on a 2-2 pitch to bring up Mejia. Gwinnett's first baseman hit Maya's next pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run home run, putting the Braves in front, 4-2. After Alden Carrithers singled, Sean Kazmar reached on a Zach Walters fielding error, with a throwing error by Walters on the same play advancing each runner a base. Catcher Matt Pagnozzi followed the play with a two-run single to left field, scoring both runners and giving the Braves a 6-2 lead.
Syracuse grabbed a pair of runs right back in the sixth inning. Rahl led off the inning with a double to right field before Walters reached on a fielding error by left fielder Jose Constanza, advancing Rahl to third base and putting Walters on second. Carlos Rivero followed with an RBI single, cutting the lead to 6-3, and the next batter, Jeroloman, cut the lead to 6-4 on a sacrifice fly to center field.
The Braves would pick up the game's final two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cunningham walked, stole second base and advanced to third on a Jeroloman throwing error, before Terdoslavich singled to center field off of reliever Mark Lowe, putting Gwinnett ahead by three runs. The Braves took an 8-4 lead three batters later on a Sean Kazmar RBI single against right-hander Jeremy Accardo.
Syracuse and Gwinnett will resume their series on Saturday night at 7:05. Chiefs right-hander Ryan Tatusko and Braves right-hander Omar Poveda are the scheduled starters.