(Pawtucket, RI) – Mookie Betts slugged a walk-off two-run home run to left-center with one out in the bottom of the ninth to propel the Pawtucket Red Sox past the Syracuse Chiefs, 4-2, Thursday afternoon at McCoy Stadium in front of 9,528 fans to move into a first-place tie in the North Division.
Pawtucket (63-50) pulled even in the standings with Syracuse (62-49) after winning back-to-back games in the series. The PawSox have now won 13 of their last 15 games and finished the month of July with the second-best record in the IL (18-9).
Will Middlebrooks, playing in the 12th game of his most recent injury rehab stint, played the entire game as the DH and went 0-for-4 with a strikeouts. Middlebrooks, on the Boston DL since May 16th, is now 11-for-48 (.229) with three homers over those 12 games but just 2-for-20 in his last five.
Betts game-winning blast (5) came against Syracuse reliever Warner Madrigal (0-4) and followed a one-out single by Justin Henry. It was the second home run in as many games for the 21-year-old, who has collected two of the Pawtucket’s four long balls in the series. Catcher Matt Spring went deep in the fifth (1) to tie the score at 1.
Edwin Escobar, the PawSox starter, made his Red Sox organizational debut and pitched six strong innings in which he allowed one run on five hits. The southpaw, acquired in last weekend’s trade from San Francisco for Jake Peavy, gave up a first-inning RBI double to Tyler Moore but limited the Chiefs to only two hits over his final five frames.
Spring’s homer tied the score against Syracuse All-Star Taylor Hill, who lasted five innings and allowed one run on four hits. Betts scored a two-out run in the seventh when a Xavier Cedeno wild pitch trickled away from the catcher Jhonatan Solano to make the score 2-1.
Dalier Hinojosa (3-5) gave up a game-tying home run to Eury Perez (1) leading off the top of the eighth, but otherwise kept the Chiefs off the scoreboard for three full innings. Hinojosa permitted just one hit and two walks and earned his third victory of the season.
The finale of the series is slated for a 7:05 pm first pitch on Friday night, as Pawtucket tries to move past the Chiefs and into sole possession of first place in the division. The PawSox starting pitcher is not undetermined as of Thursday afternoon, while right-hander Mitch Lively (0-2, 7.20) is slated to start for Syracuse.