For the Tennessee Smokies it was better late than never, as their bats woke up in the late innings Friday night to down the Chattanooga Lookouts 8-7 at AT&T Field.
Lookouts starting pitcher Chris Reed looked like he was headed for another dominant start against the Smokies (15-13), but a rocky sixth inning led to a different ending. Reed struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings, scattering three hits and allowing four walks.
Two of the four walks and a single came in the sixth to load the bases.
The Lookouts' bullpen was not able to bail out Reed. Craig Stem came in first but could not record an out, allowing three hits and three runs that were credited to Reed. An error and a Mike Thomas walk allowed two more runs to score before Thomas finally closed out the six-run inning for the Smokies.
"We just didn't play well enough to win tonight and didn't execute in certain situations," Lookouts manager Razor Shines said. "We had the fire but just didn't execute. We score seven runs and we'll win most games."
Chattanooga (11-16) scored four runs on four hits in the third inning to secure a 5-2 lead. Two came on Jeremy Hazelbaker's triple after a Darnell Sweeney double and a hit-by-pitch. Hazelbaker came in O'Koyea Dickson's single.
Sweeney and Scott Schebler stayed red-hot for the Lookouts. Sweeney ran his hitting streak to 12 games with a double in the third inning and added a sac fly in the sixth to cut the Smokies' lead back to two. Schebler hit a solo home run in the second and added a single in the third.
"I'm just sticking with my plan," Schebler said. "Before, I was just up there kind of searching, but I found a plan and it's working."
Schebler has five home runs, 11 extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in his last 14 games, while Sweeney is hitting .395 during his streak.
The Lookouts mounted a rally in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two to cut the deficit to one, but Hazelbaker struck out to end the inning.
Chattanooga has lost seven of its eight games against Tennessee this season.
"We'll keep moving forward and put this one behind us," Schebler said.
Contact Idris Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org