Before the Chattanooga Lookouts played their first game this season, manager Carlos Subero promised an aggressive approach on the base path.
He delivered Wednesday night, successfully sending 235-pound Corey Smith home on a Scott Van Slyke fly ball to short left field in the eighth inning. Smith beat the throw by bewildered Birmingham left fielder John Shelby to tie the game 4-4, and Mike Rivera followed with a two-run double to right that clinched a 6-5 victory at AT&T Field.
"The past 20 games, we've kind of been pushing it really hard," Subero said. "I think that was one thing on the road that got us out of our slump. It really kicked in when we were at Mississippi. We carried it over at West Tenn, and I think we're following it up here."
Chattanooga improved to 2-0 in the Southern League second half and 35-36 overall after winning for the 13th time in 17 games. The Barons dropped to 0-2 and 24-48, with 23 of those losses by one run.
Subero made the call for Smith to tag once Shelby and Barons center fielder Miguel Negron displayed early indecision about who would field the fly, which resulted in Shelby making the catch a little off balance. Shelby didn't have nearly enough zip on the throw, making Smith look more like teammate Dee Gordon.
"I know I'm going to take three or four steps hard," Smith said, "and once you get this big body moving, it's hard to stop me. I was pretty much going."
Said Subero: "Corey is not a guy who's going to clog you up. Maybe Eddy Perez I can't send there, but Corey moves good for a big guy."
The Lookouts were active before Wednesday's first pitch, as Gordon was named to the United States roster at the July 11 Futures Game in Anaheim, Calif. That will take place two days before the Major League All-Star Game.
Gordon attended the 1998 All-Star Game in Denver, the 2004 event in Houston and the '06 event in Pittsburgh with his father, Tom "Flash" Gordon, who was selected to play those three seasons. This will be the first time Gordon has appeared on a national stage, but he's not treating it as a business trip.
"It will definitely be for fun," he said. "That's how I approach everything. It's an honor, and I can't wait to get there to see how it all plays out."
Gordon becomes Chattanooga's first Futures representative since the Lookouts began their partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Lookouts produced several participants during their lengthy affiliation with the Cincinnati Reds, including Gookie Dawkins (2000), Adam Dunn ('01), Stephen Smitherman ('03), Homer Bailey ('06), Jay Bruce ('07) and Chris Valaika ('08) for the U.S. team, and Wily Mo Pena ('02), Edwin Encarnacion ('03-04) and Joey Votto ('06) for the World team.
There were roster moves, also, as starting pitcher Jesus Castillo and reliever James Adkins were promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque. Castillo went 4-6 with a 2.64 ERA in 13 starts, while Adkins, the career strikeout leader at the University of Tennessee, went 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA in 20 appearances.
Joining the Lookouts was reliever Justin Miller, who went 0-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 18 appearances in Albuquerque. Miller replaced starter Mario Alvarez with one out in the seventh inning Wednesday and worked through the eighth to pick up the victory.