It’s been a tough week for the Chattanooga Lookouts, but it all ended on a positive note with a come-from-behind victory over the Birmingham Barons Sunday night at AT&T Field.
The Lookouts had to come back twice against the Barons after the division leaders scored five unearned runs in the fourth inning for a 6-5 lead after leading 1-0 in the first.
It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world as the Lookouts survived with three errors, but who’s counting as long as the final result is a badly-needed win.
Raudy Read, who had a homer and three doubles in Saturday’s 10-4 win, gave the Barons an early lead with a solo homer in the first with two outs.
His grand slam in the fourth put his team back on top at 6-5, but unlike Tuesday’s game when the Lookouts turned a 9-2 lead into a 12-9 loss, the home team never quit and just kept battling to get a win.
Chattanooga manager Jose Moreno keeps an even keel most of the time, even when things aren't going his team’s way, but it’s always fun to talk to him following a big win and he has a big grin on his face.
“Finally,” he said with a deep sigh after his team ended the six-game series with a win.
“I thought our bullpen did well as J.C. Keys was outstanding. The biggest thing is that we never quit and were able to finally put together a few good at-bats.
“I read a story about Joe Torre earlier this week saying that baseball is a tough game and that you just have to keep battling, no matter what. That's what we try to do.
“I thought that Connor Spiers deserved a better fate, but we were able to come back and get the win and that was big,” Moreno added shortly before the post-game fireworks began.
While Read was the force at the plate for the Barons, first baseman Michael De Leon was the man for the Lookouts as he collected three doubles in four times at bat and drove in four runs.
The Barons scored first, but the Lookouts bounced right back to score five runs in the bottom of the first after sending 11 hitters to the plate.
Jacob Hurtubise got hit by a pitch to lead off before Francisco Urbaez singled. Alex McGarry flied to left for the first out before Hurtubise scored the tying run on a bad pickoff attempt by the Birmingham catcher.
Allan Cerda and Nick Quintana both walked to load the bases. Quincy McAfee then struck out for the second out before a walk to Ivan Johnson drove in the second run.
It also signaled the end of the game for Birmingham starter Kaleb Roper. De Leon then greeted reliever Trey Jeans with a three-run double to center on his first pitch, so it was 5-1 after the first inning.
Two infield errors hurt the Lookouts in the fourth when the Barons took the lead. Moises Castillo drove in the first with a single before Read ripped a pitch some 433 feet over the Tri-State Electric sign in left for his 11th homer of the season.
Chattanooga knotted the score at 6-6 with a run in the fifth. Johnson singled up the middle with two outs and scored on DeLeon’s second double of the game.
The Lookouts regained the lead for the second and final time in the sixth when newcomer Cerda ripped a two-run homer down the line in left. It was his third homer of the week after being promoted from Dayton on Tuesday.
Chattanooga was able to add two more insurance runs in the eighth.
Leonardo Rivas and McGarry both led off with singles. Rivas then scored on a groundout by Cerda while McGarry scored following back-to-back wild pitches.
Read was able to single to left with one out against Pedro Garcia in the ninth, but the hard-throwing righty then struck out Craig Dedelow and Alex Destino to end the game.
Read had three of Birmingham’s eight hits while Jose Rodriguez had two. DeLeon was the only Lookout with three hits.
Keys got the win for Chattanooga with 3.1 innings of scoreless relief where he allowed one hit and had three strikeouts.
Felix Paulino, the fourth Birmingham pitcher, took the loss and dropped to 3-4 after allowing the two go-ahead runs on four hits.
The Lookouts normally have Monday as a day off, but they will be on the field to face the Rocket City Trash Pandas on Independence Day with Tuesday being their off-day this week.
Chattanooga then heads for Pensacola for a six-game series with the Blue Wahoos before returning home on Friday July 22 to face the Tennessee Smokies in a three-game series.
BIRMINGHAM 100 500 000 – 6 8 1
CHATTANOOGA 500 012 02x – 10 10 3
Roper, Jean (1), Glocwicki (3), Paulino (5), Navarro (8) and Gonzalez; Spiers, Keys (4), Garcia (8) and Yang.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)