The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, were done in by Nate McLouth's walkoff home run in a 5-4 loss to the Norfolk Tides on Monday night. Syracuse led 4-1 after four innings, but the Tides scored in four of the next five frames en route to the victory. The Chiefs have now lost three straight games after previously winning 11 of 12.
Norfolk (43-43) scored the game's first run without the benefit of a hit in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Xavier Avery walked against Syracuse starter Tanner Roark, and two subsequent wild pitches advanced Avery to second and then third base. McLouth would follow with a sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Tides a 1-0 lead.
Syracuse (43-41) would answer against Tides starter Tim Bascom, who was called up from Double-A before the game to make a spot start. After the Chiefs stranded the bases loaded in a 33-pitch first inning, Syracuse scored three runs in the second. Carlos Rivero's single and Koyie Hill's walk put two runners on base before shortstop Seth Bynum laid down a sacrifice bunt. But catcher Scott Thomas threw to third on Rivero, who beat the throw, loading the bases with nobody out. After Corey Brown's groundout to first base scored a run, Erik Komatsu and Xavier Paul notched back-to-back RBI singles, putting the Chiefs on top, 3-1.
Paul kept the offense going in the fourth inning. The Chiefs' designated hitter slammed a 1-1 pitch from Bascom off of the scoreboard in right-center field for a two-out, solo home run. Paul's eighth homer of the season extended the lead to 4-1.
But Norfolk would rally soon thereafter. In the fifth inning, shortstop Steve Tolleson singled home Thomas with two outs, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
In the sixth, the Tides got another run back against Roark. Joe Mahoney's double and Bill Hall's infield single put runners on first and second to start the inning. Right fielder L.J. Hoes then lined a double to the left of center fielder Brett Carroll, scoring Mahoney from second base. But a perfect relay from Carroll to Bynum to Hill cut down Hall at the plate, with Norfolk's second baseman pulling up lame just shy of home. Roark would escape the inning without any further damage.
Left-hander Atahualpa Severino entered for the bottom of the seventh inning, but Norfolk greeted him rudely. Avery started the inning by slicing a triple down the left-field line, out of the reach of a diving Corey Brown. McLouth followed with his second sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Avery to tie the game at four. However, Norfolk nearly got more in the inning. With two outs and Tolleson on second base, Mahoney lined a single to center field. Tolleson raced for the plate as Carroll threw up the first-base line, but a swipe tag from Hill got Tolleson right at home for the inning's final out. The two outfield assists for Carroll put him back in the International League lead with 12 on the season.
Meanwhile, Syracuse failed to capitalize on two offensive chances in the final innings. In the eighth, Hill singled and moved to second with one out on a Bynum sacrifice bunt, but right-hander Brad Bergesen struck out Brown and induced a pop out from Komatsu.
Then, in the ninth, the Chiefs nearly took the lead. With one out, Chris Marrero hit a ball off the base of the wall in left field, but stopped at first base with a single. Carroll responded with a drive high off the left-center field for a double, just out of the reach of Avery's leaping try, and Marrero moved to third. But Bergesen recovered, inducing a pop-up to shortstop from Jarrett Hoffpauir before facing Rivero. The Chiefs' third baseman hit a ground ball off of Brandon Waring's glove at third, but the ball trickled out to Tolleson at shortstop, who threw to first for the inning's final out.
The stage was then set for McLouth's heroics. After right-hander Hassan Pena recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, McLouth drilled a 3-1 pitch over the right-center field wall, ending the game. The one-run win was Norfolk's second straight such victory, as the Tides won 3-2 on Sunday.
Syracuse will look to salvage the series' final game on Tuesday night at 7:15. Right-hander Yunesky Maya is scheduled to start for the Chiefs.