The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, used a four-run eighth inning to race past the Durham Bulls, 7-4, on Monday afternoon. The win finished off a season sweep of Durham for the Chiefs, completed a 7-1 road trip and moved Syracuse to a season-best 17 games over .500. The Chiefs have also won a season-high seven straight games.
Syracuse (47-30) scored in the second inning for the fifth straight game, grabbing a lead against left-hander Mike Montgomery without a hit. Zach Walters and Brandon Laird started the inning with walks, and Brock Peterson followed with a groundout to the catcher that advanced the runners. Brian Goodwin grounded out to second base on the next pitch, knocking in Walters for the game's first run.
Durham (43-36) responded in the third to take its first lead of the series. With two outs and Ali Solis on first, Ray Olmedo doubled against Aaron Laffey, advancing Solis to third base. Third baseman Cole Figueroa followed with a two-run single to center field, giving Durham a 2-1 lead. After an intentional walk to Mikie Mahtook, Mike Fontenot slashed an RBI single to left field, bringing home Figueroa.
The Bulls' two-run lead would hold until the sixth, when Durham brought in right-hander Josh Lueke. Will Rhymes and Steven Souza, Jr. began the inning with singles, and Walters followed with a walk to load the bases. Designated hitter Brandon Laird stepped up next and smashed a two-run double off the left-center field wall, evening the score at three. Lueke would exit the inning with no further damage, with Solis picking off Walters at third base before a strikeout of Peterson and fly out by Goodwin.
Walters would atone with the first RBI of a four-run eighth. Rhymes started the inning with a double against right-hander Brandon Gomes. Souza followed with a line-drive single to left field, putting runners at the corners for Walters. The Syracuse left fielder grounded a single into right field, bringing home Rhymes for a 4-3 Syracuse lead. Three batters later, Goodwin walked to load the bases and bring up Josh Johnson. On the ninth pitch of his plate appearance, Johnson took a low slider for ball four and a bases-loaded walk, scoring Souza to extend the Chiefs' lead to two. Right-hander Jake Thompson then relieved Gomes, and Jeff Howell greeted the Durham reliever with a first-pitch single to left field, driving in Walters and Goodwin for a 7-3 advantage.
The Bulls would close the gap in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Fontenot singled and Jayson Nix walked against Xavier Cedeño. Two batters later, Cedeño walked Robby Price to load the bases, and right-hander Daniel Stange entered the game. Stange threw a wild pitch to score Fontenot and cut the lead to 7-4, but the right-hander retired Solis on a fly out to stop the rally.
Syracuse next heads home for a 6:00 doubleheader against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Tuesday night. The Chiefs currently own the International League's best home record at 25-11.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.