On an evening when swirling winds made things adventurous for outfielders, Chattanooga outlasted Birmingham 5-3 before a crowd of 4,435 at AT&T Field.
Thursday's triumph resulted in consecutive home victories for the first time for the Lookouts, who improved to 6-8 and pulled within two games of Birmingham in the Southern League North Division's first-half race.
The flag in left-center field was not moving when Lookouts relief pitcher Yimi Garcia recorded the final out, but that was not the case for most of the game.
"It must have really been deceptive up there, because even the home run balls had some carry to them," Lookouts manager Jody Reed said. "Everybody was having trouble with it. This is part of the learning experience, because you have to know what the wind is doing and how that ball is going to react."
Chattanooga forged ahead for the first time in the sixth inning, when Birmingham right fielder Trayce Thompson lost track of Yasiel Puig's fly ball, which resulted in a three-base error. J.T. Wise followed by drawing a walk, and then Blake Smith doubled to right-center to put the Lookouts up 4-3.
Chris Jacobs made it 5-3 in the next at-bat with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Wise.
Puig lost sight of the ball in center during the fifth inning, but that was scored as a triple for Mike Earley. In the seventh, Earley hit a fly ball to left that Joc Pederson struggled to find before making the snag.
The Lookouts shuffled their outfield Wednesday, moving Pederson from center to left, Puig from right to center and Smith from left to right.
"Any time you have players who have versatility, as a manager, it makes your job a lot easier," Reed said. "Those guys being able to play all three positions is a nice luxury."
The Barons jumped on Lookouts starting pitcher Rob Rasmussen, with Keenyn Walker singling to center, Thompson singling to left and Dan Black launching a home run to left-center. Rasmussen allowed three runs on four hits during the first inning but then responded with five scoreless innings that contained just one hit.
Chattanooga got two runs back later in the first when Pederson led off with a single to right and Puig hit a two-run homer to left. It was the third homer this season for Puig, who is hitting a team-leading .333 through his first 13 Double-A games.
Smith doubled to left-center to open the fourth inning for the Lookouts and scored on Omar Luna's one-out bloop single to right to tie the game at 3-3.
Onelki Garcia (0-1, 3.53 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight's 7:15 series finale on the mound for the Lookouts, with Stephen McCray (1-1, 4.50) scheduled for the Barons.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...