The Syracuse Chiefs rallied late to beat the Rochester Red Wings 4-3 Thursday night in Syracuse. Wild card leader Pawtucket also lost on Wednesday, so despite the loss the Wings remain two games out of the wild card spot.
The Wings play in Syracuse again Thursday, and return home Friday night for Red Wings Hall of Fame Night, the Stan Musial bobblehead giveaway and post-game fireworks.
The Red Wings chipped away at Chiefs starter Aaron Laffey in the first inning, using four hits and a wild pitch to score three runs. Pedro Florimon hit a two-out double, and Chris Herrmann followed with a two-run home run to make it 2-0 Wings. Josmil Pinto and Chris Colabello followed with singles, and an RBI groundout by Deibinson Romero extended the early lead to 3-0.
Wings starter Kris Johnson allowed a walk and a single with one out in the bottom of the first. But the Wings kept their 3-0 lead, helped out by a fine running catch by Aaron Hicks in center to take away a potential extra base hit from Tyler Moore.
Laffey settled down and retired the Wings in order in the second and third innings. Johnson struck out a pair in the second, and the struck out the side in the third after allowing a lead-off single.
The starting pitchers were stellar through the middle of the game, with only one hit allowed between the third and sixth innings - a single by Jeff Kobnernus off of Johnson in the third.
The Wings picked up a pair of one-out hits in the seventh, after not mustering a hit off Laffey since the first inning. Eric Farris singled to center, and Doug Bernier smoked a line drive off the glove of third baseman Brandon Laird to put runners at first and second with one out. Laffey caught Beresford looking at a third strike for the second out, and a nice play by Moore at first retired Florimon for the final out.
Johnson had walked the lead-off batter in the fifth inning, but a double play helped him escape any damage that inning. He walked the first batter he faced again in the seventh inning, and this time the Chiefs would capitalize. Johnson went to a 3-1 count on Laird before also walking him; that prompted a pitching change, with Lester Oliveros taking over on the mound for Johnson. Oliveros struck out Destin Hood for the first out, but Eury Perez singled to load the bases. Jhonatan Solano's sacrifice fly to left brought home a run to make it a 3-1 game, and Kobernus followed with an RBI hit to cut the Wings' lead to 3-2.
Johnson threw 101 pitches (56 for strikes) in his six-plus innings pitched, allowing just two hits and two earned runs. He walked four and struck out five. Laffey's start included seven innings with six hits and three earned runs allowed, with one walk and six strikeouts. Laffey also threw 101 pitches, with 64 for strikes.
Xavier Cedeno (5-1) pitched the eighth for the Chiefs, setting down the Wings in order and striking out two.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Chiefs tied the score. Michael Taylor led off with an infield single, and came all the way around to score on a double down the third base line by Steven Souza, Jr. A single by Laird scored Souza and put the Chiefs ahead 4-3. Michael Tonkin came out of the bullpen and took over for Oliveros (1-2) , allowing a single then retiring the next two batters.
Rafael Martin retired the side in the ninth, picking up his 10th save.