JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Suns (34-21, 68-54) earned a crucial victory in game one of a six-game series in Chattanooga, beating the Lookouts (17-38, 52-73) 6-4 and increasing their lead in the Southern League South division.
Anthony DeSclafani (5-3) tied a career high with nine strikeouts and J.T. Realmuto launched a three-run homer in the contest for the Suns, who moved to two and a half games ahead of the Mississippi Braves in the second half pennant race.
Realmuto's second inning, three-run blast put Jacksonville ahead 3-0 and gave the right-hander DeSclafani plenty of room to work with. A Lookouts error allowed a fourth Suns run to score, and Derek Dietrich's RBI single off Chattanooga starter Duke von Schamann (3-5) pushed the lead to 5-0.
DeSclafani made the large lead stand with five and two thirds innings of strong pitching. The righty walked three but notched his nine strikeouts while allowing just five hits. His only mistake came in the sixth, when Joc Pederson crushed a two-run homer for Chattanooga.
The Lookouts added one more run in the seventh and another in the eighth, but the Suns' bullpen held on to preserve the Suns' 68th win of the season. Michael Brady finished it off for his 21st save in 2013.
Mark Canha provided the big bat for Jacksonville in the series-opening victory, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Every Jacksonville regular finished with at least one hit.
The Suns and Lookouts are scheduled to continue their series with a doubleheader on Monday, beginning at 5:15 p.m. ET. Jacksonville left-hander Adam Conley (11-5, 3.30) is scheduled to start the first game of the twin bill, opposed by Lookouts lefty Chris Reed (3-10, 3.80). Chattanooga will send right-hander Andres Santiago (3-12, 4.92). The Suns have not yet named a starter for the nightcap.
Suns fans can listen to Monday's games on the Suns Baseball Network, 94.1 WSOS-FM or through jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com or the Suns iPhone or Android app, beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET with the UF Health Suns Pre-Game Show.