A winning team.
It had been more than a month since that accurately described the Chattanooga Lookouts, but that changed Thursday night when Matt Magill pitched them past Huntsville 4-1 before a crowd of 2,283 at AT&T Field. The Lookouts won their season-high fifth consecutive game to improve to 24-23 with 23 games remaining in the Southern League's first-half race.
"It all has to go around the pitching," Lookouts manager Carlos Subero said. "We've definitely got to give some credit to our hitting, and we've been around .260 in our last 10 games, but our pitching is kind of looking like it did last year. Pitching was a solid lead for us last year, and it's getting back there."
The Lookouts are above .500 for the first time since they were 5-4 on April 13.
"We're starting to play as a team, and the pitchers are starting to really lock in as far as location and things like that with their off-speed pitches," catcher Griff Erickson said. "It's crucial, because these guys are so good in this league, and you've got to have something besides a fastball. It seems like our pitching staff has really done a good job coming up with something besides a fastball and locating it for a strike."
Magill had no qualms with his location after allowing just two hits in seven scoreless innings. The 22-year-old Californian racked up 10 strikeouts and did not yield a walk in improving to 4-2 and lowering his earned run average to 3.19.
In nine starts this season, the 6-foot-3, 175-pounder has allowed one or fewer runs five times.
"The pitchers went through a rough stretch, but we're starting to find our spot, and everyone is starting to contribute," Magill said. "It's working out, and we're going to be where we should be."
Magill was replaced in the eighth inning by Allen Webster, who allowed three hits and a run in two innings with three strikeouts.
The Lookouts took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Blake Smith drew a leadoff walk and scored on Maldonado's one-out double to left field. Maldonado added a two-run double to left-center in the seventh inning after his hit was first ruled as a home run, which would have been his second three-run homer in as many nights.
Chris Withrow (1-1, 5.52 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight's 7:15 game for the Lookouts, with Graham Taylor (2-4, 4.47) scheduled for the Suns.