PAWTUCKET - The Pawtucket Red Sox became the North Division champions on Justin Henry's game-winning hit in the bottom of the 9th inning, beating Syracuse 2-1 in front of a season-high 11,017 fans at McCoy Stadium.
Pawtucket sent major league rehabber Clay Buchholz to the mound against Syracuse in front of a packed house in search of finding his form after missing more than 21/2 months with a neck strain and with the PawSox magic number to win the division at 1.
The Chiefs broke through early in the first inning against Buchholz as Eury Perez singled to lead off the game. He would steal second and advance to third on a throwing error. Jeff Kobernus followed with an infield single to score Perez and give Syracuse a 1-0 lead.
Buchholz ran into more trouble in the third allowing a lead-off single before Danny Espinosa singled and moved to second on a misplay in right field, putting runners at second and third with only one out. After a line out, Buchholz struck out Will Rhymes looking to end the threat and strand two runners on base.
The right-hander pitched into the fourth getting a ground ball out before allowing a double on the last pitch he threw. Buchholz threw 53 pitches, 34 for strikes in 31/3 innings allowing a run on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts and no walks. Jose De La Torre came in to finish the fourth and picked a man off second base before striking out Jeff Howell to end the inning.
The PawSox offense finally clicked against start Jeff Mandel in the fourth as Brandon Snyder recorded Pawtucket's first hit to lead off the frame. After a double play, the PawSox strung together three straight two-out singles, the last one by Brock Holt to drive home a run and tie the game 1-1.
Alex Wilson pitched a flawless fifth for the PawSox including a strikeout.
Anthony Ranaudo, Friday's originally scheduled starter, came on in the sixth for his first appearance out of the bullpen since the Future's Game in New York and he was outstanding. He would walk the first man he faced, but would then retire the next 12 in a row to take the game into the bottom of the ninth.
With two outs in the ninth against closer, Quintin Berry drew a walk. With Henry at the plate, Berry stole second to get into scoring position. On a 1-1 count, Henry laced a single to center to score Berry and win the game and win the division for second time in three years.
The Pawsox will conclude their four-game set with Syracuse and host the final home game of the Regular Season tonight at 6:05. Allen Webster (8-4, 3.68) is scheduled to throw for Pawtucket against Chiefs' righty Caleb Clay (5-2, 2.57).