MONTGOMERY, Ala - Addison Russell hit a two-run home run in the first and scored twice as the first place Smokies won the fourth game of a five series in Montgomery 4-1 at Riverwalk Stadium on Wednesday night.
The victory kept the Smokies (32-27, 65-63) ahead of the Birmingham Barons by three games in the second half standings. The Barons defeated the Chattanooga Lookouts on Wednesday night, putting the Lookouts four games out of first behind Tennessee and one back of second behind Birmingham.
Russell was 2-for-4 in the game with a home run, two runs and two runs batted in. His home run was his 11th in 40 games with the Smokies this season.
Pierce Johnson started for Tennessee and the right-hander would extend his scoreless inning streak to 23 straight after keeping the Biscuits (25-34, 60-69) without a run over the first four innings on Wednesday night. Johnson allowed five hits and one run over 4 and 1/3 innings pitched and did not earn a decision.
Johnson's scoreless innings streak snapped after he allowed a run in the fifth. The inning started with a leadoff double, which Johnson followed with a wild pitch. Hager advanced to third on the pitch to the backstop and scored moments later on a groundout to third. Johnson left after the groundout and Hunter Cervenka (3-3) would finish the inning without allowing another run to score.
Tennessee led 4-0 going into the fifth and would leave the inning with a three run lead. Russell's home run in the first put them up 2-0 on Grayson Garvin and the Biscuits.
Garvin (1-8) saw an unearned run score in the second and then gave up the fourth run when Christian Villanueva doubled in Russell in the third.
Montgomery's starter struck out Albert Almora in the third to start the inning, but then gave up a single to Russell. Lars Anderson then reached on a bunt single to third and Villanueva's double in the next at-bat brought in Russell as the fourth Tennessee run.
Garvin allowed three earned runs and four total over five innings and took the loss. He gave up five hits over the first three innings, and six total in his start.
The Smokies were held without another hit after the sixth. Santiago Garrido pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Biscuits. Jimmy Patterson worked a scoreless eighth and Andrew Bellatti did the same in the ninth.
Cervenka, meanwhile, shutout the Biscuits after coming in for the fifth and would do the same in the sixth. P.J. Francescon gave up two hits and pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth before giving way to Blake Cooper for the ninth.
Cooper retired the Biscuits in order in the ninth and his first save for the Smokies. He struck out two in the inning while finishing the Tennessee victory.
The Biscuits were 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position in the loss and left 11 men on base. The Smokies left five and were 1-for-8 with men in scoring position.
The victory put the Smokies up three games to one in the series with the finale scheduled for Thursday at Riverwalk Stadium. First pitch for game five is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET. Ivan Pineyro is scheduled to start for the Smokes against Montgomery's Victor Mateo.