It took 75 games, but the 2013 Chattanooga Lookouts finally have more wins than losses.
Ozzie Martinez, J.T. Wise and Jan Vazquez hit solo home runs Sunday afternoon at AT&T Field to lead the Lookouts to a 5-2 win over Tennessee, their third consecutive victory after opening the Southern League's second half with two losses. Chattanooga went 35-35 in the first half but never got above .500.
"It feels good," Wise said. "Personally I try not to pay attention to that. I just try to play good baseball, and we've been playing pretty well this last month and a half."
The Lookouts were 16-27 on May 20 but since have won 22 of 32 games.
"After that first five weeks, we've played good baseball," manager Jody Reed said. "We've got everything in place, and that period of learning each other and all the talks and meetings are done. Now it's just time to go out and play baseball."
Chattanooga got a quality pitching start Sunday from Ross Stripling, who allowed two runs in six innings and racked up seven strikeouts while allowing no walks, but the team's latest surge is due to production at the plate. The Lookouts have scored 24 runs the past three games, the best three-game stretch this season.
They trailed 7-1 in the sixth inning Saturday night before erupting for an 11-8 win.
"Guys are stepping up, and we're coming through in clutch situations," Wise said. "At the beginning of the season, we had opportunities and couldn't get that hit. Now we're putting the ball in play and making things happen, whether it be an error, double, triple, home run or something. We're making it happen."
Reed challenged Lookouts hitters a couple of weeks ago to work on their launch position when facing fastballs. He's liking what he's seeing.
"They're taking the information that we're giving them, and they're applying it to their early work and drill work, and it's carrying into the game," Reed said. "Our quality contact is up across the board."
Wise homered to right field with two out in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie, and Vazquez homered to right in the seventh. The Lookouts got insurance in the eighth when relief pitcher Michael Thomas singled up the middle to score Joc Pederson.
The Lookouts took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Pederson drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Wise's two-out single to right. That score held until Martinez homered to left to open the fifth.
Tennessee pulled into a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning on a Rubi Silva sacrifice to left that scored Matt Szczur and a Jason Bour double to left that scored Arismendy Alcantara.
Zach Lee (5-5, 3.23) will try to continue Chattanooga's winning ways when he starts tonight's 7:15 series opener with visiting Montgomery. Jake Thompson (6-7, 4.92) is scheduled for the Biscuits.
"It's fun to win, period, but it's also rewarding to climb out of a hole," Reed said. "The team is over .500, and now we can look forward."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.