Pawtucket, R.I. – Despite 6.1 solid innings of work from Brian Johnson, the Pawtucket Red Sox were held to four hits in a 2-1 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs in Thursday night’s opener of the season’s final homestand at McCoy Stadium.
In Johnson’s final 2016 start for Pawtucket (71-67), he allowed one run on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
“I had better command of my fastball tonight,” said Johnson, comparing his outing to his start against the Chiefs (60-79) last Saturday.
After two of the first three Syracuse batters reached, Johnson retired 16 of the next 18 hitters he faced.
“He worked with a consistent tempo, his delivery was repeatable and he attacked the zone,” said manager Kevin Boles.
Johnson has allowed no more than one run in five of his last seven starts dating to July 29.
He surrendered his lone run when Matt Skole drilled a home run over the right field fence that left McCoy Stadium. Skole’s 24th blast of the season opened the scoring with two outs in the sixth.
“[Johnson] just made one pitch that was up in the zone a little bit but otherwise he did a terrific job,” said Boles.
After Chiefs starter Paolo Espino (8-11) allowed only one hit over the first six innings, the PawSox rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Christian Vazquez reached on shortstop Jason Martinson’s fielding error, Chris Marrero walked and Bryce Brentz lined a single to left field that loaded the bases with nobody out.
Chris Dominguez then lifted a curve ball into center field for a game-tying sacrifice fly.
Allen Craig singled to reload the bases, but Espino used a strikeout and a pop out to keep the game tied, 1-1.
However, Syracuse used an unearned run to reclaim the lead in the top of the eighth.
Two singles and a walk against Pawtucket reliever William Cuevas (6-8) loaded the bases for the Chiefs with two outs.
Matt den Dekker grounded a ball that eluded second baseman Mike Miller. The error allowed the game-winning run to score.
The PawSox continue their three-game series with the Syracuse Chiefs tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. Pawtucket lefthander Roenis Elias (10-5, 3.78) is scheduled to make the start against Syracuse righthander Lucas Giolito (1-2, 2.76). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox radio network begins at 6:35 p.m.
The rest of the season’s final homestand features a PawSox Baseball Card Set giveaway on Saturday, a Post-Game Fireworks Show on Sunday and an End of Season Celebration after the season finale on Monday. Good seats for all remaining games are still available at the McCoy Stadium box office; call (401) 724-7300 or visit pawsox.com to get your tickets today.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.