The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, defeated the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 5-3, on Monday night from Coca-Cola Park. Syracuse gained a 4-0 lead after three innings and held on behind a sterling pitching performance from the Chiefs' bullpen.
Syracuse (78-58) grabbed a pair of runs in both the second and third innings against Lehigh Valley starter Brad Lincoln. In the second, Eury Perez and Destin Hood laced one-out singles, with Hood's hit advancing Perez to third base. Catcher Jhonatan Solano followed with a sacrifice fly to center field for a 1-0 lead. Second baseman Will Rhymes then smashed an RBI double to the base of the 17-foot wall in right-center field for the inning's second score.
The Chiefs blasted four hits in their two-run third. Michael Taylor, playing in his first game since being optioned from Washington, singled with one out. Brandon Laird followed with a single to deep left-center field, and Taylor raced all the way around the bases to score when center fielder John Mayberry, Jr. slowly retrieved the ball. Later in the inning, Hood bounced an RBI single to center field to score Tyler Moore for a 4-0 lead.
Lehigh Valley (62-75) ignited its offense in the fifth inning against right-hander A.J. Cole. Nate Spears drew a leadoff walk, and two batters later, Cesar Hernandez walked. With Leandro Castro batting, a Cole wild pitch advanced the runners each one base. Castro knocked the next pitch into center field for a sacrifice fly. One batter later, third baseman Maikel Franco continued his red-hot series with a two-run home run well beyond the left-field wall, slicing the Chiefs' lead to 4-3.
Syracuse added some insurance in the sixth off of reliever Hector Neris. Rhymes singled with one out and advanced to second base on a throwing error by Neris on a pickoff attempt. With two outs, Emmanuel Burriss drove a single into center field to bring Rhymes home for a 5-3 lead.
That was all a pair of Chiefs relievers would need. Left-hander Matt Grace surrendered just a single in two scoreless innings, bridging the gap to the eighth. Closer Rafael Martin took the ball from there, striking out three in a pair of perfect innings to earn a save.
Syracuse and Lehigh Valley play the rubber match of their five-game, four-day set on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. Chiefs right-hander Blake Treinen is scheduled to throw against IronPigs right-hander Sean O'Sullivan.