The Salem Red Sox dropped their eighth consecutive game, coughing up a five-run lead to lose 9-6 to the Potomac Nationals in front of 5,732 fans on Sunday.
Salem (18-35), fresh off a four-game sweep at the hands of Down East, lost for the 13th time in 15 games.
LATE TROUBLE: The Sox held a 6-1 advantage after four innings and led 6-3 entering the seventh.
That’s when things went sour.
Potomac (23-32) loaded the bases with one out against Sox starter Emnanuel De Jesus. With hot-hitting Cole Freeman due up, Salem manager Corey Wimberley went to the bullpen for right-hander Eduard Bazardo — his most consistent reliever this season.
Freeman worked a 2-2 count before scorching a double down the left field line, clearing the bases and tying the game at 6-6.
FROM BAD TO WORSE: Bazardo, who entered the game with a 1.06 ERA in a dozen appearances this season, then walked KJ Harrison to put runners on the corners.
David Masters followed with a home run to straightaway center field, giving the Nationals a 9-6 lead.
ON THE PLUS SIDE… After scoring just five runs in the four-game series with Down East, the Sox showed some offensive life early in this one.
Eight of the nine Salem starters contributed at least one hit to the team’s 13-hit attack. Jagger Rusconi drove in three runs with double and a single, while Edgar Corcino connected for his second home run of the season during Salem’s three-run fourth inning.
DURAN WATCH: It says a lot that Salem center fielder Jarren Duran could suffer through a 3 for 23 slump and still lead the Carolina League in average by 35 points.
He came into the game with a .388 average, which dropped by one point after his 1 for 3 day. Duran also drew a walk and scored both times he reached base.
ON DECK: The Sox and Nationals continue their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. Monday, with Salem RHP Kutter Crawford slated to face Potomac LHP Nick Raquet.