The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, dropped a 9-8 heartbreaker to the Gwinnett Braves on Saturday night. Third baseman Zach Walters blasted a three-run home run in the ninth inning - his second homer of the game - to put the Chiefs in front, but Braves right fielder Joey Terdoslavich clubbed a walkoff two-run homer in the bottom of the frame to give Gwinnett the win. Walters smashed his team-leading 17th and 18th home runs of the season in the loss.
In the fateful ninth, Tyler Moore walked on a full-count pitch to lead off the frame against Braves right-hander Cory Rasmus. Chris Rahl followed with a single, putting two runners aboard for Walters. The third baseman took a first-pitch ball before blasting a Rasmus pitch over the wall in right field to give the Chiefs a one-run lead. Walters has now smashed seven doubles and seven home runs in his last 12 games, with at least one hit in every game over that span.
The Braves, however, responded immediately against Chiefs right-hander Mike Broadway. Todd Cunningham started the inning with a single to left field, giving way to Terdoslavich. The right fielder smacked Broadway's first pitch for a two-run homer to right field, sending the Braves home with the victory. The home run was Terdoslavich's second of the game.
Each team traded first-inning runs to start off the game. Will Rhymes led off the game for Syracuse (28-45) with a double to right field, before Danny Espinosa sacrifice-bunted him to third base. Center fielder Corey Brown followed by grounding out to pitcher Omar Poveda, scoring Rhymes for a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the frame, Gwinnett (33-44) tacked on an unearned run against right-hander Ryan Tatusko. Jose Constanza led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second base on a balk. After a Cunningham groundout, Terdoslavich walk and Ernesto Mejia strikeout, Constanza and Terdoslavich attempted a double steal. Catcher Brian Jeroloman's throw to second base sailed into center field for an error, scoring Constanza to tie the game.
The Chiefs then built a lead by scoring in three straight innings. In the third, Moore worked a one-out walk to bring up Rahl. The right fielder lined Poveda's first pitch to him into left field for a run-scoring double, bringing home Moore for a 2-1 lead.
Espinosa helped the Chiefs put two more runs across in the fourth inning. Brian Jeroloman walked to lead off the inning, and two batters later, Rhymes singled him to second base. That brought up Espinosa, who lined an 0-1 pitch into left for a two-run double.
Walters would add to the lead in the fifth. With one out, he drilled a Poveda pitch over the right-field fence for a solo home run, putting the Chiefs ahead 5-1 on Walters' first hit of the game.
The Braves, however, would launch a six-run rally in the bottom of the frame. The inning started with a Poveda single on a slow ground ball back to Tatusko. After a Constanza single and Cunningham fielder's choice, Terdoslavich hit a three-run home run to right field, cutting the Chiefs' lead to 5-4. Ernesto Mejia and Alden Carrithers followed with walks before Tatusko retired Sean Kazmar on a pop-up for the second out. Catcher Jose Yepez then lined the next pitch into left field for a two-run double, scoring Mejia and Carrithers to put the Braves ahead for the first time. Gwinnett jumped the lead to 7-5 on the pitch after that, with second baseman Luis Nunez doubling to left field to score Yepez.
The Chiefs and Braves will conclude their series with a 2:00 doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. Left-hander Danny Rosenbaum is scheduled to throw for the Chiefs in the first game, with right-hander Tanner Roark slated to start game two. Right-handers Cody Martin and Kameron Lore are the scheduled starters for Gwinnett.