In dramatic fashion Thursday night, the Norfolk Tides gave their iffy playoff hopes a boost.
Zelous Wheeler knocked a two-run single to center field off reliever Kirby Yates with one out in the ninth inning at Harbor Park, giving the Tides a 3-2 walk-off victory over the Durham Bulls, the team with by far the league's best record.
The Tides (70-63) are two games behind Rochester for the wild-card berth in the IL's four-team playoffs. They will face the South Division champion Bulls (82-51) three more times in the next three days, playing them Friday at Harbor Park before heading to North Carolina's Triangle.
Zach Britton pitched effectively as the Tides' starter, yielding just two runs and three hits in seven innings. His Bulls counterpart, Matt Buschmann, was even better, giving up one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Jonathan Schoop began the Tides' ninth with a single. After Steve Clevenger struck out, Alex Liddi doubled to center field, putting two runners in scoring position to set up Wheeler's heroics.
The box score is here:
Richmond overcame a three-run deficit, took a seemingly insurmountable lead, then survived Altoona's four-run ninth to beat the Curve 9-7 in a series opener before 7,769 at The Diamond.
The Flying Squirrels (67-64) pulled to within 1 1/2 games of Harrisburg for the second playoff berth in the Western Division.
Javier Herrera was 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI for the Squirrels, while Brandon Duvall was 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run.
Even winner Jack Snodgrass, who pitched six innings and struck out eight, drove in two runs for Richmond.
But in the ninth, the Curve -- Pittsburgh's Double-A affiliate -- scored four runs and loaded the bases with two out before Ryan Bradley induced Carlos Paulino to ground out to second base, ending the game.
Alen Hanson was 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI for Altoona.
The box score is here:Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun