JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Suns (9-6, 43-39) staged several late rallies against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (8-7, 33-51) but ultimately fell short in the series finale at Bragan Field, losing by a score of 5-3.
Zack Cox homered and Jay Jackson (2-6) tossed seven strong innings for Jacksonville, but a pair of Blue Wahoos home runs and a solid pitching performance from Josh Smith (7-6) doomed the Suns' chances to take a second straight victory in front of 9,286 fans at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
"We had several opportunities at various times in the game," said Suns manager Andy Barkett following the loss. "We just didn't get a big hit. It's unfortunate. It's one we gave away."
The Suns' best chance to tie game or vault ahead came in a lengthy seventh inning that ultimately saw Jacksonville score just one run. Trailing 4-2, the Suns took advantage of a dropped third strike and a Pensacola error to pull to within a run. Cox, however, struck out swinging with the bases loaded to strand the tying and go ahead runs on base.
Jackson was efficient but not entirely successful on the mound for the Suns, giving up an RBI single to Devin Lohman in the third and a solo home run to Marquez Smith in the fourth. With his team down by a run into the fifth, Jackson surrendered two more runs after an error by Cox extended the inning with two outs.
Despite the troubles, Barkett was impressed with his starter's outing.
"[Jackson] battled for us," the Suns manager said. "He pitched well for us and kept us in the game. He did his job."
Ryan LaMarre added an insurance run for Pensacola in the ninth, hitting a solo home run off Arquimedes Caminero to push the Blue Wahoo's lead to 5-3. Loek Van Mil pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth inning to earn his seventh save of the season.
Josh Smith tossed six innings of two run ball for the Blue Wahoos to earn the win. Smith allowed just seven hits and struck out three, while issuing just one walk.
The Suns will travel to Tennessee to take on the Southern League North Division's Chattanooga Lookouts on Thursday, July 4 in the beginning of a five-game series. In Jacksonville's first trip to Chattanooga in the 2013 season, the Suns will send right-hander Robert Morey (3-4, 4.66) to the mound in the opener. The Lookouts will counter with right-hander Zach Lee (6-5, 2.95). First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. ET.
Suns fans can listen to Thursday's game on the Suns Baseball Network, 94.1 WSOS-FM or through jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com or the Suns iPhone or Android app, beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET with the UF Health Suns Pre-Game Show.