MONTGOMERY, Ala - Addison Russell hit a grand slam in the seventh to put the Smokies up six runs, but the bullpen allowed the game to get away and a game winning three-run home run from Taylor Motter lifted the Biscuits to a stunning 7-6 win versus the Smokies in Montgomery on Tuesday night.
The Smokies (31-27, 64-63) managed to remain three games ahead in the second half standings after Chattanooga defeated Birmingham later in the night. The loss snapped first place Tennessee's winning streak at six straight and marked the third time the Smokies failed to hold a six run lead since July 25.
Montgomery (25-33, 60-68) scored seven unanswered runs over the seventh and ninth despite falling behind 6-0 in the game. Pinch hitter Leonardo Reginatto started the comeback with a bases loaded single to left in the seventh off reliever Matt Loosen.
Loosen left during the seventh after pitching a scoreless sixth and Zach Cates entered the game out of the Smokies' bullpen. Cates would inherit two and escape the inning without allowing any other runners to score.
Jeff Lorick worked a scoreless eighth and stayed in for beginning of the ninth. He managed to hold Tennessee's 6-2 lead, but would leave the game after giving up a single to Kes Carter to start the final inning.
The Smokies then turned to Frank Batista and he would see his defense commit two errors behind him. The first was a dropped throw from Christian Villanueva at third to second baseman Stephen Bruno on a potential double play and the second was a misplay at third (also by Villanueva). The Smokies had chances for two double plays in the inning but failed to turn both. Those misplays then set the stage for Motter who delivered the game winning home run to left off Batista.
Batista allowed four unearned runs in the ninth and gave up two hits while taking his first loss of the season. Lorick allowed an unearned run and one hit over an inning plus. Cates earned a hold while keeping the Biscuits scoreless over two-third of an inning. Loosen gave up two runs and two hits over an inning and two-thirds. He also walked three and struck out one.
Russell's grand slam, at the time, turned the game on its ear. Tennessee had scored twice on just four hits over the first six innings and led 2-0. The grand slam extended Tennessee's lead to 6-0 in the seventh and was Russell's second of the season.
Russell was 2-for-5 in the game with five runs batted in. He also ripped a run scoring double in the two run Tennessee first.
C.J. Edwards started the game and held the Biscuits without a run over five full innings. Edwards matched a season high with seven strikeouts and gave up just two hits. He walked two and threw 80 pitches with 41 counting for strikes.
The Smokies scored twice in the first to support Edwards early in the game and did so on four hits. Three of those four were consecutive doubles from Albert Almora, Russell and Lars Anderson. Russell's double scored Almora and Anderson's two-bagger to right-center scored Russell.
Montgomery starter Albert Suarez allowed all four Tennessee hits in the first, but would not allow another hit or run over the remainder of his start. Suarez gave up just two runs and four hits over six innings and struck out three while taking the loss.
Suarez left before the sixth and Matt Lollis took over out of the bullpen for Montgomery. Lollis allowed a leadoff single to Stephen Bruno to start the Tennessee seventh and would then walk Taylor Davis. Right-fielder Jae-Hoon Ha dropped a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. The Biscuits then elected to intentionally walk Pin-Chieh Chen and after Almora struck out, Russell came up and blasted a grand slam to straightaway right. The home run was Russell's tenth with Tennessee and his first to right field.
Lollis allowed four runs on two hits over two innings. He also walked three and struck out one. Bryce Stowell (3-2, 2.22) earned the win after walking one and pitching a scoreless ninth.
The loss dropped Tennessee's lead in the series to 2-1. Game four of the series is set for Wednesday night with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 PM ET. Pierce Johnson (5-4, 2.36) is scheduled to start for Tennessee. He will be matched up against Montgomery's Grayson Garvin (1-7, 3.65)