Three Syracuse Mets home runs weren’t enough as the Buffalo Bisons took game two of a five-game series with an 8-5 win on Thursday night at NBT Bank Stadium. Two of those home runs came from Mark Payton, while the other was provided by Khalil Lee.
Buffalo (77-47) got on the board with a run in the top of the third. After Kellin Deglan walked, Mallex Smith tripled, scoring Deglan to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.
The Bisons increased their lead in the top of the fourth. Kevin Smith hit a leadoff single. Gregory Polanco followed with an RBI double to make it a 2-0 Bisons advantage. Tyler White then made it a 3-0 game with an RBI single.
Syracuse (50-73-1) cut into the deficit in the bottom of the fourth. Payton led off the inning with a solo home run to make it 3-1 with Buffalo still in front. After Mark Vientos flied out, Lee homered to bring the Mets within one, 3-2.
The Mets took the lead in the bottom of the fifth. David Thompson hit a leadoff single, and then Drew Jackson and Martin Cervenka were retired. With two outs and Payton at the plate, Thompson stole second base. Then Payton followed with his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to right field to give the Mets a 4-3 advantage.
However, the lead didn’t last long. In the top of the sixth, Tyler White worked a one-out walk for Buffalo. Cullen Large then grounded out as White moved to second. Jake Reed then came out of the Syracuse bullpen, replacing Adam Oller. The first batter Reed faced was Nash Knight, who hit an RBI double to tie the game, 4-4. After Kellin Deglan walked, Mallex Smith hit a one-run single, scoring Knight to give the Bisons a 5-4 lead. With Forrest Wall at the plate, Mallex Smith stole second base. Mets catcher Martin Cervenka’s throw to second was errant, allowing Deglan to score and Smith to go to third as Buffalo went up 6-4. Then a wild pitch by Reed brought home Smith to make it 7-4 Bisons.
Oller’s pitching line was five and two-thirds innings pitched with four runs allowed on four hits. The Mets’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year walked four batters and struck out five and finished his Triple-A season with a 2.45 ERA in 44 innings pitched in eight starts.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jackson worked a leadoff walk for the Mets. After Cervenka and Payton struck out, Vientos walked. Then, Lee hit a grounder to short, and a throwing error by Buffalo shortstop Otto Lopez allowed Lee to reach first base safely, while Vientos went to third base and Jackson scored to cut the deficit to two runs, 7-5 Bisons.
Out of the bullpen, Stephen Nogosek was fantastic for the Mets. The right-hander delivered two perfect innings in the seventh and eighth while tying a career high with five strikeouts.
Buffalo added an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Mallex Smith hit a solo home run to extend the Buffalo lead to three, 8-5.
The Mets and Bisons return to NBT Bank Stadium on Friday for the third game of the five-game series. Syracuse right-hander Zack Godley faces Buffalo right-hander Bowden Francis. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.