Give the Birmingham Barons credit.
They give credence to the adage that "anybody can beat anybody on a given day."
Despite having the worst overall record in the Southern League, the Barons continued to give the league-leading Chattanooga Lookouts fits Saturday night at AT&T Field. Birmingham and Chattanooga played 21 innings before the Lookouts prevailed 2-1 on four consecutive two-out walks.
The game started at 7:15 p.m. and ended at 12:45 a.m.
Usual position player Alex Perez pitched the 19th and 20th innings for the Lookouts, allowing no hits and a walk, but went back to second base in the 21st, when Max Murphy moved from the outfield to the mound. Murphy walked his first batter but then recorded three consecutive outs, and he got the win when the Barons' Toby Thomas, shifted from first base, followed two strikeouts with walks to T.J. White, Murphy, Ryan Walker and Levi Michael.
Birmingham (40-64) came up short in trying to swipe the series from the Lookouts, who improved to 68-37. The Barons were the last team to win a series against Chattanooga, taking three of five in Birmingham from May 30 to June 3.
The Barons took a 1-0 lead Saturday when Jose Vinicio led off the game with a double to right field and scored on a throwing error by Lookouts third baseman White. Birmingham clung to that advantage until the ninth inning, when the Lookouts' Jonathan Rodriguez singled to right and was replaced by pinch-runner Perez, who advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Andy Wilkins' single to right.
Perez stayed in the game at second base until moving to the mound.
Lookouts starting pitcher Felix Jorge went nine innings, allowing four hits. He tallied eight strikeouts after four Chattanooga pitchers combined for 17 in nine innings Friday night. The two-team total for 14 pitchers in the 21-inning game was 42 strikeouts, including six in three innings for Lookouts reliever Raul Fernandez.
Barons starter Tanner Banks gave up four hits, a walk and no runs in eight innings, with six strikeouts.
Birmingham's Hunter Jones doubled off Randy Rosario to begin the 10th but was thrown out at home plate by Murphy on Trey Michalczewski's one-out single to right. Chattanooga had the bases loaded in the 11th and runners on third and second in the 14th, each time with two outs, but failed to score.
Murphy (1-0) was 3-for-8 as the only player in the game with more than two hits.
The Lookouts will begin a five-game series in Montgomery tonight at 6:35 EDT. Stephen Gonsalves (7-3, 2.78 ERA) is scheduled to start on the mound for Chattanooga.