Lookouts third baseman Luis Nunez(above)finished with three hits and drove in a run for Chattanooga in a 6-1 win over the Jacksonville Suns at AT&T Field August 16, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Chattanooga Lookouts
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns lost for the fifth straight game, falling 6-1 to the Lookouts on Thursday night at AT&T Field in Chattanooga. The Lookouts have outscored the Suns 19-8 in the first three games of the series. Jacksonville has allowed five runs or more in six of the last seven games.
The Suns found the scoreboard first in the third inning with a two-out rally against Lookouts starter Allen Webster. Chris Gutierrez doubled to right-center field, and Zack Cox reached base on an error by third baseman Luis Nunez with Gutierrez moving to third. Ben Lasater delivered with a RBI single to left field, with Gutierrez hustling home to put the Suns in front 1-0. Gutierrez leads the Suns with 22 doubles this season. The Suns fell to 46-20 when scoring the first run of the game.
After getting runners to second and third in each of the first two innings and leaving them on base, the Lookouts broke through in the home half of the third against Suns starter Bryan Evans. The first four batters of the inning each collected a hit, with Nick Buss and J.T. Wise starting the rally with singles. They weren’t on base long, with Blake Smith swinging at the first pitch he saw from Evans and sending a triple into the gap in left-center, with Buss scoring from second and Wise scoring all the way from first to give the Lookouts a 2-1 lead. Luis Nunez then singled to drive in Smith from third base to make the score 3-1. Nunez would be the last batter that Evans would face in the game after throwing 63 pitches in just two innings, and only 29 of his pitches were strikes.
The Lookouts doubled their lead in the sixth against Suns reliever James Leverton. Bobby Coyle singled, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, and advanced to third on a ground out. With two outs, Rafael Ynoa drove in Coyle with a single to left field to make pad the lead to 4-1. After a walk to Nick Buss put runners on first and second, J.T. Wise hit a base-clearing double to the gap in left-center to increase the Lookouts lead to 6-1. Ynoa has five hits, two RBI’s, and three runs scored in the series. Wise has six hits in the series, and has driven in seven runs in the last two games.
Jacksonville had three hits in the first three innings, and then just three hits the rest of the game. The Suns have been outscored 35-21 during their five-game losing streak, and have fallen four games back in the South Division. Chattanooga has won three in a row and five of the last six to climb to the top of the North Division.
The top five in the Lookouts batting order were a combined 11-for-21 with six RBI’s and five runs scored. J.T. Wise and Luis Nunez combined for half of the Lookouts 12 hits with three each. Wise has three doubles and a home run in the last two games. Rafael Ynoa and Blake Smith both went 2-for-4. Paul Gran went 2-for-4 for the Suns.
The Lookouts hit five doubles, the most the Suns have allowed in a game since April 27th against Pensacola. The Suns are 5-for-23 and the Lookouts are 9-for-38 with runners in scoring position in the first three games of the series.
Bryan Evans (5-7) allowed three runs on five hits and struggled with his control in a season-low two innings of work. He started off only one of the 14 batters he faced in the game with a strike. Allen Webster (6-8) allowed one unearned run on five hits in 5.1 innings for the win. He hasn’t suffered a lost in his last eight starts going back to July 2nd. The Lookouts bullpen combined to pitch 3.2 hitless innings. Scott Elbert, in Chattanooga on a rehab assignment from the Dodgers, struck out the side in the eighth and has fanned all five batters he has faced in the series.
Game four of the series is Friday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 PM from AT&T Field in Chattanooga. LHP Brian Flynn (2-0, 3.42) will take the mound for the Suns. RHP Zach Lee (1-3, 6.05) will start for the Lookouts.