The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, swept a doubleheader with the Rochester Red Wings on Thursday afternoon. Syracuse extended its winning streak to a season-high four games with a 5-4 eight-inning win in the first game, thanks to a Jason Michaels three-run home run, and a 3-2 victory in the second.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Syracuse (7-13) took a lead on the second pitch thanks to Corey Brown. The center fielder homered to straightway center off of Cole DeVries, putting the Chiefs ahead 1-0.
After Rochester (9-11) tied the game in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single from Aaron Bates, the Chiefs retook the lead in the fourth. Jarrett Hoffpauir's bloop single scored Bryce Harper, and Syracuse led 2-1 all the way up to the bottom of the seventh and final regulation inning.
But the Red Wings had a late rally in their bats against Zach Duke, who allowed just one run in the first six innings. Ray Chang singled to lead off the frame, and Joe Thurston's single moved Chang to third with nobody out. After Ryan Perry came in to relieve Duke with Michael Hollimon batting, the Chiefs benefited from a bizarre play. Hollimon showed bunt and pulled back before a Perry pitch, but catcher Jeff Howell caught Chang too far off of third base, with Chang eventually tagged for the inning's first out. Thurston advanced to third on the play, but a Hollimon strikeout brought the Red Wings to their final out.
The next batter, Darin Mastroianni, fell behind on an 0-2 count. However, Mastroianni slapped a line drive just over Mark Teahen's glove in right field for a run-scoring triple, tying the game at two. Perry then struck out Brian Dozier to send the game into extra innings.
For the second straight day, Michaels would provide eighth-inning heroics. After Rochester reliever Casey Fien recorded the first two outs, Tyler Moore and Harper walked to put two men on base for Michaels. The Chiefs' designated hitter then fell behind 0-2 before taking two balls. With a 2-2 count, Michaels slammed Fien's pitch into the left field bullpen for a three-run home run, giving Syracuse a 5-2 lead.
In a game where two-strike rallies were the norm, Rochester cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the inning on another late push. Aaron Bates walked with one out, and with two down, Joe Benson took Atahualpa Severino deep on a 1-2 pitch for a two-run home run. But Severino induced a Ray Chang fly out to end the game with a 5-4 Syracuse win.
The second game featured more strong pitching, despite two starting pitchers who were making their respective first starts of the season in Erik Arnesen and Jeff Manship. Arnesen allowed the game's first blow, when right fielder Matt Carson launched a first-inning solo home run to left field.
Manship held the Red Wings' lead until the fourth with three scoreless innings, but Syracuse tied the game in the fourth. With one out, a Teahen single and Moore walk put two runners aboard for Harper. The 19-year-old grounded an 0-2 pitch into right field for a run-scoring single, tying the game at 1.
In the fifth, the Chiefs jumped ahead for good against reliever Esmerling Vasquez. Hoffpauir singled, and after Carlos Rivero reached on a fielder's choice groundout, Carlos Maldonado singled to put two runners on base. After a Brown strikeout and Johnson walk, Teahen strode to the plate with the bases loaded for the third time in this series. He then hit an 0-2 pitch from Vasquez into left field for a two-run single, scoring Rivero and Maldonado to put Syracuse on top 3-1. In three at-bats with the bases loaded in the series, Teahen delivered a grand slam and two two-run singles.
Arnesen departed after five innings of two-hit, one-run ball, striking out four while walking none. But Rochester rallied against Syracuse reliever Austin Bibens-Dirkx. Drew Butera led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a double, and a Mastroianni fly out advanced Butera to third. Dozier then hit another 0-2 pitch to third base, where Rivero fielded the ground ball and attempted to cut down Butera at home. But his throw was late and Butera scored, cutting the lead to 3-2.
After a Carson single, Chiefs manager Tony Beasley removed Bibens-Dirkx. His bullpen would recover nicely, with Hassan Pena entering and inducing a foul fly out from Bates on one pitch. Left-hander Cory VanAllen then entered and walked Thurston, but the southpaw recovered to get a fielder's choice groundout from Benson, ending the inning with the bases loaded and the Chiefs ahead by a run.
VanAllen and Josh Wilkie claimed the final three outs in the seventh, with the latter getting the last two outs to record his first save of the season.
The Chiefs return home on Friday to face the Charlotte Knights for the beginning of a four-game series. Right-hander Mitch Atkins will start for the Chiefs against Knights righty Charlie Shirek.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.