The Chattanooga Lookouts only seemed like they would win every game from here on out.
After taking the first two games from Birmingham at AT&T Field and holding a late lead Thursday night, the Lookouts succumbed to the Barons 6-5 when Seth Loman launched a two-run home run to right-center in the eighth inning off Steven Ames. The loss was just the second for the Southern League's North Division leaders in the last nine games.
"We seem to be firing on all cylinders now, and when we've needed to be clutch, we have been," Lookouts catcher Griff Erickson said. "Tonight was one of those nights it didn't happen for us. One pitch got us, but this isn't going to slow us down."
Birmingham pulled within 5-4 earlier in the eighth inning when Carlos Sanchez led off with a triple to center and scored on Jose Martinez's two-out single to center. The Lookouts dropped to 20-13 nearing this weekend's midway mark of the second-half race, while the Barons improved to 15-18.
The Lookouts took a 5-3 lead in the seventh with the aid of consecutive errors by Barons shortstop Tyler Saladino and first baseman Andy Wilkins. Luis Nunez scored on the error by Wilkins, and C.J. Retherford scored when Erickson followed the Birmingham gaffes by doubling to left.
Retherford had his own miscue in the fifth inning, however, when he sailed a two-out throw to first base that brought in two Birmingham runs to give the Barons a 3-1 lead.
"I'm better than that," Retherford said, "and I should have made the throw."
Jake Lemmerman's two-run home run to left in the sixth pulled Chattanooga into a 3-3 tie.
Two Lookouts continued their plate success Thursday, with leadoff batter Rafael Ynoa extending his hitting streak to 19 games with a two-out single to right in the second inning. Nick Buss followed by drawing a walk, which marked the 26th straight game he has reached base.
Zach Lee (0-2, 9.45) is scheduled to start tonight's 7:15 game for the Lookouts, with Jacob Petricka (0-1, 5.40) scheduled for the Barons. The two pitching staffs have combined to walk 29 batters the past two games.