KODAK, Tenn. - The Tennessee Smokies rode a three-run seventh inning to their sixth win in seven games in a 4-1 victory over the Chattanooga Lookouts in the opening game of their five-game series at Smokies Park. With the win, the Smokies take a 4 1/2 game lead over Birmingham for first place in the Southern League North Division. The Lookouts remain deep in the cellar, 14.0 games back.
The Smokies got on the board early against Lookouts starter Garrett Gould (2-4). Christian Villanueva hit a one-out double, advanced to third on a groundout by Brett Jackson and scored on a Rafael Lopez single to give Tennessee a 1-0 lead.
In the seventh inning, Nate Samson drew a lead off, pinch-hit walk and later scored on an RBI-single by Alcantara to give the Smokies a 2-0 lead. A few batters later, Silva hit a two-run single to score Matt Szczur and Alcantara, bringing the Smokies lead to 4-0.
Smokies starter Eduardo Figueroa (1-1) picked up his first Double-A victory going five innings of scoreless baseball, giving up six hits, a walk and a strikeout in the process.
Reliever Hunter Cervenka pitched out of two jams in his two innings of work and did not yield a run. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out three.
The Lookouts would get a run in the eighth inning off of reliever Dayan Diaz on a Miguel Rojas double, scoring pitcher Jarret Martin, who hit for himself in the inning.
Diaz would pitch the ninth inning for the Smokies and struck out Rafael Ynoa on a called strike three to end the game. He threw two innings and gave up a hit, a run, a walk and struck out three.
Szczur and Villanueva led Tennessee's 9-hit offensive attack, both going 2-3 with a run and a walk.
The Smokies and Lookouts will play Game 2 of this five-game series on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at Smokies Park. Tennessee will send righty Dae-Eun Rhee (3-1, 3.79) to the mound to take on the Lookouts lefty Chris Reed (3-9, 3.64).